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Coronavirus

Trump says 'China-centric' WHO 'really blew it' on coronavirus

US president promises to 'look into' funding for the organization

President Donald Trump accuses the World Health Organization of being "China-centric."   © Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- U.S. President Donald Trump sharply criticized the World Health Organization on Tuesday, accusing it of being too focused on China and issuing bad advice during the coronavirus outbreak.

"The W.H.O. really blew it," Trump said in a Twitter post. "For some reason, funded largely by the United States, 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?"

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric rejected the criticism of the World Health Organization, 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 - WHO is showing the strength of the international health system," he told reporters.

Dujarric added that the WHO had also recently done "tremendous work" in putting its staff on the frontlines to successfully fight Ebola, an infectious and often fatal disease, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The WHO did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on Trump's remarks.

Trump also attacked the U.S. health department on Tuesday, accusing the inspector general of having produced a "fake dossier" on American hospitals suffering shortages of personal protective equipment on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak. Trump did not provide any reason for questioning the report on those shortages.

On Jan. 31, the United Nations health organization advised countries to keep borders open despite the outbreak, although it noted that 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.

U.S. conservatives have increasingly criticized the WHO during the global pandemic, saying it relied on faulty data from China about the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Last week, Republican Senator Marco Rubio called for the resignation of Tedros, saying "he allowed Beijing to use the WHO to mislead the global community."

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