WHO faces coronavirus probe after Trump threat

WHO faces coronavirus probe after Trump threat

GENEVA: The World Health Organization agreed Tuesday to launch an investigation into its coronavirus response, as Beijing accused Washington of shirking its responsibility after President Donald Trump threatened to quit the UN agency.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said dealing with the pandemic must come first, however, as COVID-19 continued to unleash death and economic devastation across the planet.
The toll in some hotspots was continuing to climb, with Britain revealing that more than 41,000 people have died of the disease there.
Other parts of the world are only just starting to feel the full force of the pandemic — such as in Latin America, where Brazil has overtaken Britain with the third-highest number of infections in the world, around 255,000 confirmed cases.
Under pressure at home in the United States, which has far more virus cases and deaths than any other country, Trump has accused the WHO of being a “puppet” of China and of failing to do enough to combat the initial spread of the disease.
On Monday he threatened to make permanent a temporary freeze on US funding to the body.
Beijing hit back Tuesday, charging him with trying to “smear” China and damage the WHO for political ends.
“The US tries to use China as an issue to shirk responsibility and bargain over its international obligations to the WHO,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
Russia also denounced Trump s threat.
“We are against breaking everything there is for the sake of one state s political or geopolitical preferences,” deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by news agency Interfax.
The European Union backed the WHO too, saying it was “not the time for finger pointing” — putting Brussels once again in opposition to Washington when it comes to Trump s treatment of international organisations.
With the row threatening the global response to the pandemic, WHO countries adopted a resolution calling for an “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” of the international response, and the measures taken by the agency.
Both the United States and China voted for the resolution, brought by the European Union at the WHO s annual assembly, despite earlier fears that the tensions might make a full consensus impossible. …Agencies


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