Coronavirus: Trump threatens to defund WHO

U.S. President Donald Trump plan on imposing travel ban on Nigeria and some other countries
President Donald Trump

The President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, has threatened to withhold funding from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for getting “every aspect” of the Coronavirus pandemic wrong.

According to CNBC, Mr Trump, in a press conference on Tuesday at the White House, said the international health agency had called the border restrictions wrong.

“We’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO,” Mr Trump said. “We will look at ending funding because you know what, they called it wrong.”

Mr Trump said he is thinking about withholding funds to the WHO, saying the international agency pushed back on his travel ban from China early in the COVID-19 outbreak.

It is unclear, however, how Mr Trump would do this.

The US Congress had already authorized $122 million for the WHO for this fiscal year, and while Mr Trump has proposed $58 million in funding for the group in fiscal year 2021, a significant cut.

It is unlikely that the Congress will authorise such a drastic funding cut, especially in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

His comments repeated criticism he levelled against the health organization over Twitter earlier Tuesday.

“The W.H.O. really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look,” he tweeted.

“They did give us some pretty bad play calling with regard to us, they’re taking a lot of heat because they didn’t want the borders closed, they called it wrong. They really called, I would say, every aspect of it wrong,” he said.

The global health agency started sounding the alarm on the outbreak of a new coronavirus in Wuhan, China in mid-January.

According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, more than 1.4 million people have tested positive, while there have been more than 81,000 deaths.

WHO officials declared the outbreak a pandemic on March 11, when there were just 121,000 global cases. In the U.S. alone, there are now more than 380,000 cases, according to John Hopkins.

“Take a look, go through step by step. They said there’s no big deal, there’s no big problem. There’s no nothing, and then ultimately when I closed it down, they said I made a mistake in closing it down and it turned out to be right,” Mr Trump said, referring to travel restrictions he put in place on people flying to the U.S. from China on January 31 when he declared it was a public health emergency in the U.S.

While WHO officials have praised the U.S. response to the coronavirus, they’ve also been critical of some of Mr Trump’s policies and practices surrounding it.

They urged people against calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” as Mr Trump had done, saying that it could unintentionally lead to racial profiling.

On March 18, the executive director of WHO’s emergencies program, said that viruses do not discriminate before affecting its victims.

“Viruses know no borders and they don’t care about your ethnicity, the color of your skin or how much money you have in the bank. So it’s really important we be careful in the language we use lest it lead to the profiling of individuals associated with the virus,” he said.

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

“This is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumors. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma,” he said.

Mr Trump signed an executive order for the U.S. to deny entry to any foreign nationals who had traveled in China within the past two weeks, aside from the immediate family of U.S. citizens, 24 hours later.

Coronavirus factsheet


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