GENEVA: The World Health Organization on Wednesday urged the United States and China to join forces to fight the coronavirus pandemic, saying there would be “many more body bags” without international unity.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday urged leaders to stop politicising the coronavirus pandemic following stinging criticism of the WHO from US President Donald Trump.
The WHO director-general urged the US and China to join forces in fighting the disease rather than indulging in a blame game.
Tedros hit back after Trump took aim at the UN health body, accusing it of taking US money but favouring China, where the outbreak emerged in December.
“The WHO really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look,” Trump said on Twitter.
“Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?”
Tedros issued a stern defence of the WHO’s handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 80,000 people, while more than 1.4 million people have tested positive.
“The United States and China should come together and fight this dangerous enemy,” Tedros told a virtual press briefing in Geneva.
“The focus of all political parties should be to save their people. Please don’t politicise this virus.
“If you want to have many more body bags — then you do it. If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicising it.
“Quarantine, politicising COVID… we shouldn’t waste time pointing fingers,” he said, adding: “It’s like playing with fire.”
“We will have many body bags in front of us if we don’t behave. When there are cracks at national level and global level, that’s when the virus succeeds.
“For God’s sake, we have lost more than 60,000 citizens of the world.
“What are we doing? Is this not enough?”
Despite Trump’s tweet, Tedros also said that he expected US funding for the WHO to continue.
He thanked Washington for its “generous support” thus far, adding that the “US will continue to contribute its share”.
Tedros said there would be worse to come from COVID-19 if countries did not unite to stand up to its spread.
“Let’s fight like hell to suppress and control this virus. It’s dangerous,” he said.
“Otherwise, with the way we are doing now, I think we will regret it.”
The United States on Wednesday surpassed 400,000 novel coronavirus cases, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The pandemic has now claimed the lives of at least 12,936 people in the United States, which leads the world in the number of confirmed infections with 401,116, by the Baltimore-based school’s count.
The 300,000-case milestone was passed on Saturday.