Trump accuses WHO of having gone wrong with the coronavirus pandemic and threatens to suspend funding

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President Donald Trump answers a question regarding the report of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Social Services on the shortage of new coronavirus screening tests for hospitals during the daily information session of the group of Coronavirus work at the White House in Washington, United States, April 6, 2020.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

President Donald Trump has criticized the World Health Organization for being wrong on “all aspects” of the coronavirus pandemic and has threatened to suspend funding for the international organization.

“They gave us very bad calls … as far as we are concerned, they get a lot of heat because they didn’t want the borders to be closed, they called him wrong. They really called, I would say, all the wrong things, “said Trump at a White House press conference on Tuesday.

WHO, the United Nations agency for health, started sounding the alarm on the epidemic of a new coronavirus in Wuhan, China, in mid-January, designating the pandemic of COVID- 19 as a global health emergency on January 30 when there were only 8,200 cases in 18 countries around the world. The coronavirus has since taken its toll worldwide, spreading to more than 1.4 million people and killing more than 81,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

WHO officials declared the epidemic a pandemic on March 11, when there were only 121,000 cases worldwide. In the United States alone, there are now more than 380,000 cases, according to Hopkins.

“Take a look, go through step. They said there is no big problem, there is no big problem. It’s nothing, and finally when I closed it they said I made a mistake in closing it and it turned out to be right, “said Trump, referring to the restrictions of travel he imposed on people traveling to the United States from China on January 31, when he declared it a public health emergency in the United States.

While WHO officials have lauded the US response to the coronavirus, they have also criticized some of the Trump policies and practices surrounding it. They urged people not to call COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” as Trump did, saying it could unintentionally lead to racial profiling.

“Viruses know no borders and they don’t care about your ethnicity, your skin color or the amount of money you have in the bank. It is therefore very important to be careful in the language we use so as not to lead to the profiling of individuals. associated with the virus, “said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO emergency program, at a press conference on March 18, when asked about Trump’s comments inciting violence against Asians.

When WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the coronavirus epidemic a global health emergency in January, he urged countries to remain calm and not to impose “measures that unnecessarily interfere with the international trade or travel ”.

“This is the time of the facts, not of fear. It’s time for science, not rumors. Now is the time for solidarity, not stigma, “he said on January 30.

A day later, Trump signed an executive order ordering the U.S. to deny entry to any foreign national who has traveled to China in the past two weeks, except the immediate family of U.S. citizens.

Trump has said he plans to withhold funds from the WHO, saying the international agency had pushed back its travel ban from China at the start of the COVID-19 epidemic. However, it is unclear how Trump would do this. Congress has already authorized $ 122 million for WHO for this exercise, and although Trump has proposed $ 58 million in funding for the group in fiscal year 2021 – a significant reduction – Congress is unlikely authorize such a drastic reduction in funding, particularly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We will suspend the money spent on WHO,” said Trump. “We will seek to end the funding because you know what, they called it wrong. “

His comments reiterated his criticism of the health organization on Twitter on Tuesday.

“The W.H.O. really blew it up. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, but very focused on China. We’ll take a look at it, “he tweeted.

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