Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis lashed out at the World Health Organization (WHO) in a Twitter rant on Tuesday after they warned against his plans to scale down COVID-19 contact tracing. Babis said that the WHO should ‘keep quiet’ because it was initially slow to recognize the pandemic.
Babis has said tracing may be narrowed nationwide to contacts of people who show severe symptoms, but the WHO’s local office said tracing should be scaled up.
“I am reading what the WHO has now published. The WHO, which did not recommend veils and did not even know that there was a pandemic. In my opinion, it should keep quiet. We are doing very well,” said Babis. Experts from the Ministry of Health are now discussing the change in contact tracing. Government Commissioner for Health Research Roman Prymula noted that “the change of tracing will still be discussed.”
According to the Czech branch of the WHO, the situation in the Czech Republic is now worrying. The data show an increasing level of infection across counties and districts, and an increase in hospitalized patients with COVID-19, including those in serious condition. The solution is not to stop contact tracing, but rather to increase capacity, the Czech WHO said.
“Testing, contact tracing, and isolation have no other alternative in COVID-19 management. Neither in our country nor anywhere else,” the WHO said, adding that COVID-19 testing has expanded significantly.
In addition to cutting back on contact tracing, Babiš also said that people wearing face masks when in contact with an infected person would not have to be quarantined.