Trump says ‘China-centric’ WHO ‘blew it’ on virus

US President Donald Trump. File photo
US President Donald Trump. File photo
Image: Reuters

US President Donald Trump has sharply criticised the World Health Organisation, accusing it of being too focused on China and issuing bad advice during the coronavirus outbreak, and saying he would put a hold on US funding for the agency.

“The WHO really blew it,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

“For some reason, funded largely by the US, 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?”

Trump repeated the accusations against the UN health organisation at a White House news briefing later on Tuesday.

“They called it wrong. They really — they missed the call,” he said.

“And we’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO.

“We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it and we’re going to see.”

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric rejected the criticism of the WHO, which is led by director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“For the secretary-general [Antonio Guterres], it is clear that WHO, under the leadership of Dr Tedros, has done tremendous work on Covid in supporting countries with millions of pieces of equipment being shipped out; on helping countries with training; on providing global guidelines,” he said.

Republican senator Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, vowed there would not be any funding for the WHO in the next Senate appropriations bill.

“I’m in charge of the appropriations subcommittee.

“I’m not going to support funding the WHO under its current leadership.

“They’ve been deceptive, they’ve been slow and they’ve been Chinese apologists,” Graham said on Fox News.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, when asked about Trump’s remarks, said Tedros had played an important role in promoting international co-operation to combat the pandemic.

“China will continue to support the work of WHO in co-ordinating international efforts to counter the virus,” he said, adding US halting of payments would negatively impact the “global fight against the virus”.

Trump also accused the US health and human services department’s inspector-general of having produced a “fake dossier” on US hospitals suffering shortages of personal protective equipment on the front lines of the outbreak.

On January 31, the WHO advised countries to keep borders open despite the outbreak, though it noted countries had the right to take measures to try to protect their citizens.

That same day, Trump’s administration announced restrictions on travel from China. — Reuters