Republican Senators in the United States have upped their criticism of the World Health Organisation’s response to the coronavirus, just as criticism of President Donald Trump’s months long downplaying of the pandemic is being interrogated.
One senator went as far as calling for the WHO Director-General to resign for what she believes is his role in assisting China’s under-reporting of the outbreak while another has urged a Congressional investigation into the organisation’s response.
This escalation comes as reports emerge that US intelligence agencies and others warned the White House as early as January and February of what was to come.
Comments by the WHO’s Director-General on China’s response to the outbreak has made him a target of some Republican Senators.
Speaking here in late January after declaring COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Let me be clear this declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China, on the contrary, WHO continues to have confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak. I’ll repeat this, let me be clear – this declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China.”
He continued in the same briefing.
“We should have actually expressed our respect and gratitude to China for what its doing. It has already done incredible things to limit the transmission of the virus to other countries and where respect is due, then you don’t punish meaning if anyone is thinking of taking measures it’s going to be wrong, and Who doesn’t recommend and actually opposes any restrictions for travel or trade or other measures against China.”
But the explosion of cases in Europe and the United States and the closure of borders and restrictions on travel from China and elsewhere has raised questions about the WHO’s allegiances and advice.
Republican Senator Martha McSally speaking on the Fox Business Network.
“The WHO needs to stop covering for them, I think Dr Tedros needs to step down, we need to take some action to address this issue, it’s irresponsible, is unconscionable what they’ve done here.”
Her Republican colleague Senator Rick Scott called for a congressional probe into the WHO and wants the United States to consider withholding funding to the global body. While in an editorial the influential Wall Street Journal accused the organisation of bowing to Beijing’s coronavirus disinformation.
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