Xi says China supports probe after pandemic under control

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020 00:00 |
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo/AFP

Geneva, Monday

China supports an “comprehensive evaluation” of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic after it “has been brought under control”, President Xi Jinping told the World Health Assembly on Monday.

Xi told the virtual meeting via video that China has “always had an open, transparent and responsible attitude”, and had shared information on the virus in a timely manner.

His remarks came after the  World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pledged Monday to launch an independent probe to review the coronavirus pandemic response as soon as possible.

“I will initiate an independent evaluation at the earliest appropriate moment to review experience gained and lessons learned and to make recommendations to improve national and global pandemic preparedness and response,” he said at the start of the assembly.

The assembly, held online for the first time in its history, is set to discuss a resolution tabled by the European Union that calls for an “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” of the international response to the coronavirus crisis.

Countries called for a joint response to the Covid-19 pandemic and for any vaccine to be a “global public good”.

In his speech, Xi said that the inquiry into the global response should “sum up experiences and improve shortcomings”.

Governments including the US and Australia have also called in recent weeks for an investigation into the origins of the virus, which has become a flashpoint in deteriorating tensions between Washington and Beijing. 

Shared information

Both US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have accused China of a lack of transparency over the issue, and repeatedly pushed the theory that the virus emerged from a Wuhan maximum-security laboratory.

China has strenuously denied accusations of a cover-up, insisting it has always shared information with the WHO and other countries in a timely manner.

Tedros defended the WHO’s response to the pandemic, arguing it gave countries ample warning, guidance and advice.

Speaking at the assembly, German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the work of the WHO, but suggested it could be improved.

“ is the legitimate, global institution where all the threads come together. Because that is the case we have to keep looking at how we can further improve its functioning,”  she said.

Merkel said international cooperation was key to overcoming the pandemic.

The WHO has been strongly criticised by some world leaders, particularly US President Donald Trump, who has accused it of mismanaging the pandemic.

The virus, first reported in China late last year, has infected some 4,744,216 people across the world, with 315,740 deaths. -AFP and BBC

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