'Scared' | 

WHO’s Mike Ryan reveals he received ‘death threats’ during Covid pandemic

“I’ve worked all over the world in the most extreme situations, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I have never been as scared personally for my own safety as I have been during Covid”

Dr Mike Ryan of the World Health Organisation

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

The executive director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Health Emergencies Programme has told of how he feared for his life due to “death threats” during the pandemic.

Dr Mike Ryan was speaking at a webinar hosted by University College Cork (UCC) about the next phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said that he was concerned about the long-term impacts the pandemic may have had on healthcare workers, particularly in terms of their mental health.

“The proportion of health workers who have been diagnosed with PTSD is horrifying. The fact that we think come November, December that if there’s a new variant, we just go back to how things were two years ago is a very dangerous assumption,” he said.

“Our health workers are tired and some of them are dealing with the long’term psychological impacts. We don’t need to be planning ahead for 10 years’ time. We might need to be thinking ahead for 10 weeks’ time and what our healthcare systems will do then.”

Dr Ryan added that he thinks he has PTSD and received death threats from people over lockdown.

“We’ve had death threats here; we’ve been shouted at. I’ve worked all over the world in the most extreme situations, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I have never been as scared personally for my own safety as I have been during Covid. That’s an incredible thing to say, living in Geneva, Switzerland, most of the time.”

He also predicts that Ireland’s hospitals will be overwhelmed this winter with hundreds of patients left on trolleys.

“It’s true in Ireland and a lot of places, we’re running our health systems at 120pc occupancy almost. We’re running our health systems right at the edge of their ability to do normal business and then we wonder why they fail when we stress them.

“We know it’s coming - it's been like that a decade or more and we haven’t done anything.”


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