Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organisation, is the latest leader at the forefront of battling the coronavirus crisis to go into self-isolation, after being identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive for the disease.

Tedros tweeted late on Sunday: “I have been identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive for #COVID19. I am well and without symptoms but will self-quarantine over the coming days, in line with @WHO protocols, and work from home.”

The biologist and public health authority, who has headed up the WHO’s effort to fight Covid-19 since it first emerged last December, added it was “critically important” to comply with health guidance in order to suppress the virus.

WHO guidance indicates that close contacts of people infected with Covid-19 self-quarantine in a facility or at home for 14 days.

Key background

Tedros, 55, joins a list of global leaders who have self-isolated in recent months after either coming into contact with someone with Covid-19, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, or after contracting it themselves, such as U.S. President Donald Trump.

The timing of Tedros’ self-isolation comes as the outbreak, first reported to the WHO from Wuhan, China, on Dec. 31 2019, surges again across Europe and the U.S., prompting fresh lockdowns.

In June, as a number of governments opted to lift months-long restrictions on movement and businesses, Tedros warned that the worst of the virus was “yet to come” as he slammed the absence of a joined-up, global strategy and inadequate test and trace systems.


At the height of the first wave of the pandemic, and, despite the U.S. accounting for 9.2 million of 46 million infected worldwide, President Trump moved to take the U.S. out of the WHO, with the withdrawal set to be effective from July 2021.

In May, Trump halted payments to the global public health body, accusing it of mismanaging the pandemic and being “China-centric”, as Trump’s own spat with China over trade and the coronavirus, worsened.