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The director of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday said countries that heeded the agency’s early warnings on the novel coronavirus are now in a “better position” than those that did not, while omitting from his remarks any agency missteps.
“We can only give advice to countries. We don’t have any mandate to force countries to implement what we advise them,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director of the WHO, said during a Monday press briefing, as per the National Review.
“The world should have listened to the WHO carefully,” Tedros added. “We advised the whole world to implement a comprehensive public health approach – find, test, contact tracing, and so on. The countries who followed that are in a better position than others.”
Tedros noted that the organization issued “the highest level of emergency,” or a global emergency, on January 30.
The WHO did not declare the COVID-19 outbreak as a global pandemic until March, however. And on Twitter, in January, not long before declaring a global emergency, it posted a tweet citing Chinese health officials who claimed at the time there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel virus within the country.
“Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China,” the organization said in a Jan.14 tweet, which came less than two months before the WHO declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic.
The news comes after President Trump announced earlier in April that the United States will immediately halt all funding for the WHO, saying it had put “political correctness over life-saving measures.” He noted that the U.S. would undertake a 60-to-90 day investigation into why the “China-centric” WHO had caused “so much death” by “severely mismanaging and covering up” the coronavirus spread.
The U.S. is the WHO’s largest single donor, and the State Department had previously planned to provide the agency $893 million in the current two-year funding period. Trump said the U.S. contributes roughly $400 to $500 million per year to WHO, while China offers only about $40 million. The money saved will go to areas that “most need it,” Trump asserted.
“We have deep concerns over whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible,” Trump said at the time, accusing the WHO of failing to adequately keep the international community apprised of the threat of the coronavirus.
“The WHO failed in this duty, and must be held accountable,” he added.
Fox News’s Brooke Singman contributed to this report.