Trump tells WHO to prove 'independence' from China within 30 days; warns freeze on funding
US President Donald Trump wrote to the World Health Organisation alleging the UN body of underplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus when it first broke out. Trump wrote to WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and gave the organisation an ultimatum of 30 days to "commit to major substantive improvements". He said that if the organisation failed to do so within the stipulated time, then the US would stop funding WHO and consider withdrawing its membership. "I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organisation that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America's interests," said Trump in his letter.
The US President alleged that the WHO consistently ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier. He said that the organisation failed to independently probe the reports that were in conflict with the Chinese government's accounts.
Trump said that the WHO realised that coronavirus was a health emergency not later than December 30. He said that there was enough evidence from the country to show that a new virus was emerging. Taiwan had also informed the WHO about the virus that could communicate from human to human. Trump said that even then WHO did not do anything.
The US President said Dr Zheng Yongzhen had alerted the government but nothing was published by them till he posted about COVID-19 himself online. Soon after the government shut down his lab for "rectification".
Donald Trump also pointed out that WHO had initially said that there was no evidence to suggest that coronavirus spread from human to human. He also alleged that Chinese President Xi Jinping pressured Ghebreyesus to not declare corona a health emergency. Ghebreyesus, Trump alleged, gave in to the pressure. He in fact, praised the Chinese government for its "transparency", said Trump.
Even when coronavirus was declared an emergency, the WHO failed to pressure China to allow a team of international medical experts into the country. It was done so only two weeks later and even then Wuhan was off limits. "You also strongly praised China's strict domestic travel restrictions, but were inexplicably against my closing of the United States border, or the ban, with respect to people coming from China," said Trump. He said that China's pressure campaign on other nations to lift travel restrictions was supported by the WHO's incorrect statements.
The WHO also downplayed the risk of asymptomatic spread, said Trump. He added that by the time China declared coronavirus a pandemic, it had already killed 4,000 people and infected 100,000 people across 114 countries.
Trump said that even now China refuses to share data accurately and on a timely basis. "China continues to deny international access to their scientists and relevant facilities, all while casting blame widely and recklessly censoring its own experts," said Trump.
The WHO failed to force China for an independent investigation. "The WHO could have done so much better," said Trump citing example of the organisation's handling of the SARS outbreak.
Donald Trump, in his letter, asked WHO to demonstrate "independence from China". He reiterated that action is needed on this urgently and there's no time to waste, asking WHO to prove itself in 30 days.