WHO defends coronavirus response after Trump criticism

WHO defends coronavirus response after Trump criticism
Trump blames WHO of being too China-centric. Source: Getty Images
4 Min Read

Daily US Times, Washington: The head of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday defended the organization’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. At one point, he directly responded to criticisms leveled by President Donald Trump.

As global cases crossed 1.5 million, the organization’s initial response to the outbreak has been increasingly scrutinized. On Tuesday, Trump threatened to pull US funding for the organization, only to later backtrack from the threat.

According to the tally of Johns Hopkins University, the killed over 88,000 worldwide. America’s death toll is also rising on alarming way as it stands at more than 14,800 after the country recorded 1,922 deaths on Wednesday — the most in a single day.

Meanwhile, On Wednesday, Britain reported 938 fatalities, making the death toll past 7,000. Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care.

In a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Please don’t politicize this virus. It exploits the differences you have at the national level. If you want to be exploited and if you want to have many more body bags, then you do it.”

“If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it. My short message is: Please quarantine politicizing Covid. The unity of your country will be very important to defeat this dangerous virus.”

The chief of the organization outlined a timeline of actions his organization took in response to the crisis.

He said, on New Year’s Day, a day after China reported a cluster of cases in Wuhan that were later determined to be the novel coronavirus, World Health Organization activated its Incident Management Support Team to coordinate its response at headquarters, regional headquarters, and country level.

On January 5, it notified all the member states about the outbreak and news of the outbreak on its website. Five days later, on January 10, it published a “comprehensive package of guidance” for countries on how to detect and test potential cases.

After the first cases of community spread were reported in China in late January, the WHO “declared a public health emergency of international concern, our highest level of alarm,” Tedros said Wednesday.

To help with the response, the United Nations crisis management team was activated in early February.

Mr Tedros said: “We said we have been doing everything we can, but we will continue to do everything — day and night — like we have been doing to save lives. We don’t want to waste time.”

He added that the organization performs an after-action assessment when confronted with a new and serious public health concern like coronavirus.

He also said that the organization will do their assessment identifying the strengths and weaknesses, adding that WHO wants to learn lessons from the pandemic.

Trump blames WHO

US President Donald Trump criticized the WHO during a White House press briefing on Tuesday, claiming it had downplayed the virus, and threatened to pull funding for the organization, though he later backtracked from such talk.

“I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but we are going to look at it,” he said.

Trump seized on the WHO not supporting his travel restrictions with China.

On Wednesday, he criticized the WHO again and responded to Tedros by again pointing to the organization’s relationship with China.

“I can’t believe he’s talking about politics when you look at the relationship they have to China,” Trump said. ”So China spends 42 million, we spent 450 million and everything seems to be China’s way. That’s not right, it’s not fair to us and honestly, it’s not fair to the world.”

Trump also implied that there would have been fewer coronavirus deaths if the WHO gave a “correct analysis.”

In response to the WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the president said: “I think when you say more body bags, I think we would have done, and he would have been much better serving the people that he’s supposed to serve if they gave a correct analysis.”