Coronavirus: faced with American threats, WHO accepts an investigation into its action

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Faced with accusations and threats of a boycott of the United States, the member countries of the World Health Organization decided on Tuesday to launch an “independent evaluation” of the reaction of the UN agency to the pandemic of new coronavirus.

The 194 member countries of the organization, in an unprecedented teleconference devoted to the disease which has killed more than 318,000 people worldwide since its appearance in China in December, agreed to launch “as soon as possible (…) a process of impartial, independent and comprehensive assessment “of international action taken in response to the pandemic.

This assessment, the contours of which remain unclear, will have to sift through “the measures taken by WHO in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and their chronology”.

This agreement, found with the approval of China and the United States, is a response to the accusations of President Donald Trump who judges the WHO subservient to Beijing and issued him a month-long ultimatum, under threat of leave this body of which the United States was traditionally the first contributor.

“If the WHO does not commit to significant improvements within 30 days, I will transform the temporary suspension of funding to WHO into a permanent measure and reconsider our membership in the organization” , he tweeted overnight from Monday to Tuesday.

Beijing responded by accusing Trump, whose country is the most mourning in the world with more than 90,000 dead, of seeking to “shirk its obligations” to the organization and to “sully China’s efforts in the face of ‘epidemic”.

The resolution adopted Tuesday provides that the investigation may include “scientific missions and collaboration in the field”. China has declared itself open to independent investigation, but not before the end of the pandemic.

Russia, where the disease has started a slow decline but where hotspots remain, has denounced what it called American attempts to “break” the organization.

“We are against a breakage (of the WHO), which would go in the direction of the political or geopolitical interests of a single state, in other words the United States,” said Russian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergei Riabkov.

Hunger riots

As the pandemic brought the global economy to its knees, France and Germany on Monday proposed a 500 billion euro recovery plan to try to restart activity within the EU, whose members are still struggling to agree on a common stimulus plan.

In practice, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron propose that the European Commission borrow on the markets “on behalf of the EU”, before transferring the money to European countries and “to the sectors and regions most affected “.

The pandemic is considered under control in Europe, where the majority of countries have started to deconfinate their populations, with the key being the reopening of emblematic sites such as the Acropolis, Mont Saint-Michel or Saint-Pierre in Rome. But it continues to progress, especially in India and South America.

In Chile, hunger riots broke out in the suburbs of the capital Santiago, placed in strict confinement. “I am a dog groomer, I have a small business. I am not given any subsidy,” says Paola Garrido, who is struggling to feed her four children.

Further north, the coronavirus has further aggravated the economic crisis that is undermining Venezuela, forcing residents to a survival economy. “We cook on a wood fire, we eat what we find, it’s a bit like a camp” scout, summarizes Hector, patriarch of a family from San Cristobal, in the west of the country.

“Global public good”

As the vaccine race continues around the world, the American company Moderna announced initial encouraging results on Monday, but to be taken with caution. Large-scale trials are planned for July.

In China, the prestigious Peking University (“Beida”) believes that it has discovered a potential remedy based on antibodies taken from patients healed from Covid-19.

On Monday, at the opening of the WHO meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping had assured that a possible Chinese vaccine would be a “global public good”. Macron also said that “everyone should be able to have access” to a future vaccine.

Pending a medical breakthrough, Donald Trump surprised everyone on Monday by revealing that he was taking hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug whose effectiveness against the coronavirus has not been demonstrated.

“I have been taking it for a week and a half (…) I take one tablet a day,” he said during an exchange with journalists at the White House, stressing that he had ” no symptoms “of Covid-19.

“Time to go to work”

In Europe, where Italy and Spain in particular saw their daily reports fall below the threshold of one hundred dead for the first time in two months, the deconfinement continues.

Cafes and restaurants reopened in North Macedonia on Tuesday. In England, training for the Premier League, the most followed football championship in the world, will resume on Tuesday in small groups, like Monday in Spain. In Germany, the Bundesliga restarted last weekend behind closed doors.

Several European countries have also opened their borders to seasonal workers to cope with the lack of arms for harvesting. “It is time to go to work, to earn money, and then to come back happy,” said Mykola, 32, before taking a special flight from Kiev to Helsinki.

However, confinement will remain in force in Turkey for the duration of Eid el-Fitr, the holiday that will mark the end of Ramadan. Similar measures have been taken in Syria, which will not organize collective prayers, and in other Muslim-majority countries such as Egypt or Algeria.

burx-phs-mm / sg

5/19/2020 6:43:40 PM –
Geneva (AFP) –
© 2020 AFP

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