The United Nations (UN) has defended the World Health Organisation (WHO) against criticisms that it gave bad advice during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in China.
The criticisms were coming from U.S. politicians, including President Donald Trump, who alleged on Tuesday evening that WHO was “China-centric”.
Speaking at the daily coronavirus taskforce news briefing in Washington, Trump accused the global health body of being too focused on China.
The president said the organisation made the wrong decisions about the initial coronavirus outbreak, including advising against border closure against China.
“The WHO blew it, they really blew it, for some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China-centric. We will be giving that a good look.
“Fortunately, I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?”
“We are going to put a hold on money spent on WHO. We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it and we’re gonna see.
“They seem to err always on the side of China, we will look at ending funding because you know they called it wrong,” he said.
But spokesperson to the UN Secretary-General, Mr Stephane Dujarric, dismissed the criticism, saying WHO had done “tremendous work on COVID-19”.
“For the Secretary-General, it is clear that WHO, under the leadership of Dr Tedros, has done tremendous work on COVID-19.
“This includes supporting countries with millions of equipment being shipped out, on helping countries with training, on providing global guidelines.
“WHO is showing the strength of the international health system,” he told newsmen in New York.
Before Trump’s comments, some U.S. lawmakers had asked WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, to resign for allegedly allowing China to cover up the true impact of the disease.
Republican Senator Martha McSally said that the 3,331 deaths reported by the Chinese government was far less than the actual figure.
Speaking on Fox News, McSally said WHO D-G should be partly blamed for China’s lack of transparency in its reporting of the outbreak.
“Dr Tedros deceived the world. At one point, he even praised China’s ‘transparency during its coronavirus response efforts.
“This was despite a mountain of evidence showing the regime concealed the severity of the outbreak. This deception cost lives,” she said.
Texan Republican Senator, Ted Cruz, also called on WHO to consider replacing the director-general.
Cruz said WHO had “consistently bent to the will of the Chinese Communist Party at the expense containing the spread of the coronavirus”.
According to British newspaper, Daily Daily, when China reported 17,238 infections and 361 deaths in February, Ghebreyesus said there was no need for other countries to shut their borders against it.
He said measures that “unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade” were not needed in trying to halt the spread of the virus, the paper reported.
The report further stated that the D-G on March 20 praised the Chinese government for the lack of new domestic #COVID19 cases.
China has recorded 3,331 COVID-19 deaths and 81,708 infections, but many have speculated that this number is much higher and that China is trying to cover up the true reality of the spread, according to the paper.