UN chief defends WHO after criticism from Trump, says probe possible

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United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Wednesday defended the World Health Organisation (WHO) after U.S. President Donald Trump accused the world body of failing in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is my belief that the World Health Organisation must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19,” Guterres said in a statement.

The secretary general also indicated there could be an investigation at a later stage.

“This virus is unprecedented in our lifetime and requires an unprecedented response. Obviously, in such conditions, it is possible that the same facts have had different readings by different entities,” Guterres said.

“Once we have finally turned the page on this epidemic, there must be a time to look back fully to understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly across the globe, and how all those involved reacted to the crisis.”

But that time had not come, the UN chief stressed.

“Now is the time for unity, for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences,” Guterres said.

Trump on Tuesday said he would consider putting a “hold” on funding to the WHO, after accusing it of possibly withholding information early on in the outbreak.

The president said the global health body was “China-centric,” appearing to echo criticism that it relied too heavily on information from that country, where the virus originated, in the initial stages of the outbreak.

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