Criticism of the World Health Organization (WHO) for allowing the Chinese Communist Party to influence its behavior during the Wuhan virus epidemic is intensifying, coupled with calls for Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to resign.
A petition calling for Tedros’ resignation and Taiwan’s full membership in WHO reached 500,000 signatures on Thursday, as reported by Taiwan News:
On Jan. 31, a netizen named Osuka Yip started a petition titled, “Call for the resignation of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General,” on Change.org, citing Adhanom’s refusal on Jan. 23 to designate the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) a global health emergency. The author said this was partially to blame for the number of infected cases increasing more than tenfold from 800 to more than 10,000 over the next five days.
“We strongly think Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is not fit for his role as WHO Director General. We call for the Immediate Resignation of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,” the petition reads.
It goes on to lament that despite the WHO’s supposed commitment to neutrality, Adhanom has taken the number of infected provided by China at face value. The vast majority of coronavirus infections have occurred in the communist country, which at the time of writing has counted 81,226 infections, a number widely believed to be grossly underreported, with 3,281 confirmed deaths.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Tuesday (March 24) confirmed that it had warned the WHO about human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 on Dec. 31 last year. However, the WHO did not publish the requested information on its internal website and on Jan. 8 praised China’s identification of the virus and did not recommend any specific travel measures for travelers.
The petition can be viewed and signed at Change.org, which reported 549,813 signatures as of Thursday morning.
Criticism of WHO leadership at Taiwan News stretches back to February when an op-ed wondered why the organization was taking so long to declare a pandemic and quoted some astonishingly obsequious remarks about China from top officials:
Since the virus first emerged in December, it has spread to more than 30 countries across five continents. By any interpretation, it must be considered a pandemic, yet the WHO continues to drag its feet. Why might this be?
One far from subtle clue was given earlier this week by Bruce Aylward, the man who leads the WHO-China mission of experts. In an astonishing statement, he lavished praise on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) handling of the outbreak and attacked the governments of other countries for failing to prepare adequately for the disease.
“China knows how to keep people alive,” Aylward claimed before adding, “That is not going to be the case everywhere in the world … It is a serious disease.”
Taiwan News cited the danger of the CCP using WHO as a mouthpiece to undermine travel bans, one of the few effective measures available to other nations as they struggled to slow the spread of the coronavirus:
Perhaps most worrying have been those statements that have urged international governments not to cancel flights to and from China or place any restrictions on the movement of people and goods.
It is patently obvious that these statements come straight from Beijing’s propaganda department and are focused on propping up China’s ailing economy rather than on any real consideration for the health of people around the world.
Far from being a responsible international body helping to contain the Wuhan virus pandemic, the WHO has become part of the problem. It now represents the interests of the communist regime, not those of the international community, and its advice and guidance has lost all credibility.
The February 27 op-ed concluded by referencing Yip’s petition, which at that point had about 400,000 signatures.
Taiwanese health officials restated on Wednesday that they warned WHO about human transmission of the coronavirus while the Chinese Communists were still denying such infections were possible.
Taiwanese officials said WHO’s International Health Regulations unit did not post any of the information they forwarded. They criticized WHO for relaying false information from the CCP even though international observers were not allowed to obtain first-hand information about the epidemic in Wuhan.
Taiwan went on to devise and implement the world’s most effective strategy for controlling the outbreak, but WHO keeps lavishing praise on Beijing. Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said last week that lives around the world could have been saved if the global health community had paid closer attention to Taiwan’s warnings and advice.
Rasmussen cited Taiwan’s exclusion from WHO as a deadly sop to Chinese vanity that contributed to thousands of deaths:
Until 2016, Taiwan was allowed to participate in its annual assembly as a non-state actor. This is no longer the case, and for the past three years, its request for an invitation has been denied. If it wishes to participate in WHO technical working bodies made up of health experts looking at specific challenges, it must apply each time and its participation is regularly blocked. One example of this was last year when Taiwan was blocked from discussions on influenza vaccines.
Taiwan made clear that its wish to be part of these bodies was due to its practical know-how. It has been satisfied to be included as an observer. It has something to offer the global health community. Yet China muddied the waters of geopolitics and global health – and today we see the consequences.
“Until now, the world’s multilateral bodies have gone along with China’s pressure that Taiwan be excluded. But it has come at a cost to all of us, starting in this case, to China. Now it’s time that we tell China, there is a place for discussing geopolitics. The World Health Organization is not it,” Rasmussen advised.
Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and House Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) are among the American critics of Tedros’ performance. Cruz described the WHO director’s conduct as “deeply troubling” in a Twitter statement on Tuesday that linked to an article describing how Tedros got the job with extensive assistance from the Chinese Communist Party:
It is deeply troubling @WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu is helping the Chinese Communist Party obfuscate the origins and trajectory of #COVID19, at the risk of health around the globe.https://t.co/gobeAmq7Pd
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) March 25, 2020
The Daily Caller article referenced by Cruz noted that Tedros “worked closely with China during his time as Ethiopia’s health minister,” won the election to become WHO director “despite widely covered accusations that he covered up three different cholera epidemics as health minister in Ethiopia,” was shamed out of tapping the monstrous Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe to be a “goodwill ambassador” to the U.N. as a favor to Beijing, and is not even a medical doctor, although he has training in infectious disease response.
Senator Rubio and Rep. McCaul were quoted criticizing Tedros in a RealClearPolitics piece on Thursday. Rubio joined Cruz in labeling the director’s performance as “deeply disturbing.”
“The actions of the Chinese Communist Party exacerbated the public health crisis plaguing the international community, and instead of prioritizing global health, Dr. Tedros and the WHO played favoritism to China,” said Rubio.
McCaul said WHO is a victim of the CCP’s “shadow campaign to gain and wield influence at the United Nations.”
“Now, hundreds of thousands are sick, and thousands have died. That does not deserve accolades from the WHO. It deserves condemnation,” he said.
“WHO Director-General Tedros’ poor handling of this crisis shows a severe lack of judgment and certainly raises several red flags about his integrity serving in this important post,” McCaul charged.
RealClearPolitics noted that China pumped $13.6 billion into Ethiopia while Tedros was foreign minister from 2012 to 2016, including funds for a railroad, six-lane highway, metro system, and several skyscrapers.
RCP concluded by observing there are important Republicans and conservatives willing to cut Tedros some slack, notably including President Donald Trump, who has said Tedros “seems fine” but also questioned whether he is “biased towards China.”
Ron DeSantis Issues Stay-at-Home Order for SE Florida Through Mid-May
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Monday that he is imposing a stay-at-home order for Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Monroe Counties through mid-May in an effort to combat the spread of the Chinese coronavirus. “The ‘Safer-At-Home’ [order] is the right move for southeast Florida,” DeSantis told reporters during a press conference. “This is the time to…
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Monday that he is imposing a stay-at-home order for Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Monroe Counties through mid-May in an effort to combat the spread of the Chinese coronavirus.
“The ‘Safer-At-Home’ [order] is the right move for southeast Florida,” DeSantis told reporters during a press conference. “This is the time to do the right thing. Listen to all of your local officials.”
“We will do this through the middle of May, and then see where we’re at,” he added.
The directive comes as Florida has confirmed more than 5,000 coronavirus cases and 60 deaths. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties account for 3,207 of its 5,473 cases, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
On Friday, DeSantis ordered travelers from Louisiana to self-quartine for two weeks and directed the Florida Highway Patrol to set up checkpoints on major highways to screen travelers from the emerging virus hotspot.
“New Orleans is having a lot of problems — they may not be quite as widespread as New York City. There was a concern from the Panhandle that this could impact them,” the government said of the move.
“They are working hard to keep their rates low and we don’t want to add any problems to them,” he added.
Earlier Monday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued a “stay-at-home” order for his state, which is scheduled to take effect tonight at 8:00 p.m.
“Unfortunately we are only at the beginning of this crisis, and it will get considerably worse before it gets better,” Hogan said. “We are no longer asking or suggesting Marylanders stay home, we are directing them to do so.”
New York welcomes hospital ship as coronavirus accelerates
New York (AFP) – A hospital ship arrived in New York Monday as America’s coronavirus epicenter prepares for the peak of the pandemic, with emergency restrictions extended amid grim warnings about the death toll. The navy’s USNS Comfort, which has space for 1,000 beds and a dozen operating rooms, docked in a Manhattan pier around…
New York (AFP) – A hospital ship arrived in New York Monday as America’s coronavirus epicenter prepares for the peak of the pandemic, with emergency restrictions extended amid grim warnings about the death toll.
The navy’s USNS Comfort, which has space for 1,000 beds and a dozen operating rooms, docked in a Manhattan pier around 11:00 am (1500 GMT) after departing Virginia on Saturday.
Its arrival came after President Donald Trump abandoned his Easter weekend target for life returning to normal in the United States and extended social distancing guidelines until the end of April.
Trump said on Sunday America’s death rate was likely to increase for two weeks, describing as “horrible” a prediction by senior scientist Anthony Fauci that COVID-19 could claim up to 200,000 lives.
Worst-affected New York is ramping up hospital capacity and taking delivery of desperately needed medical supplies as it races against time to get ready for its peak number of cases.
“This virus has been ahead of us from day one,” Governor Andrew Cuomo told MSNBC Monday, saying projections suggest the pandemic could reach its crest between two and four weeks.
“Prepare for the apex. Have the materials for the apex. That’s when the system is going to collapse,” he said.
The Comfort will care for New Yorkers requiring intensive care unrelated to the coronavirus, easing the burden on a hospital network overwhelmed by an influx of COVID-19 patients.
“It will be good for morale,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The US now has the highest number of confirmed cases in the world — more than 143,500, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The illness has claimed more than 2,500 lives in the country and 776 of those deaths have been in New York, America’s financial capital and most populous city.
The Big Apple is scheduled to open a temporary emergency hospital in the Javits convention center with 2,900 beds on Monday.
Four other sites have also been approved to house patients discharged from hospitals to make way for residents suffering from coronavirus.
Flights run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the body tasked with responding to disasters, have also begun arriving at New York’s JFK Airport.
The flights, part of “Project Airbridge,” are delivering millions of masks, gowns and thermometers.
Around 50 flights are planned in total, according to the White House.
De Blasio said late Sunday the city has enough medical equipment to last a week but needed “several hundred more ventilators very quickly.”
Trump cancelled his plans to re-open much of the US by Easter on April 12 after his top scientists confronted him with data on the rising coronavirus deaths.
Fauci, who leads research into infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said Sunday that between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans could die from “millions of cases.”
Trump said the better that Americans obey the emergency guidelines to stay at home “the faster this whole nightmare will end.”
“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won,” Trump said, adding he expected the country to “be well on our way to recovery” by June 1.
Fauci said he had no trouble convincing Trump to extend the confinement guidelines.
“He looked at the data and he got it right away. It was a pretty clear picture,” Fauci told CNN on Monday.
Trump, who initially downplayed COVID-19, has regularly oscillated between stressing the seriousness of the outbreak to talking of the need to get people back to work quickly.
RI Authorities Conduct Door-to-Door Checks-ins of Fleeing New Yorkers
Rhode Island police and members of the Rhode Island National Guard went door to door over the weekend to inform New Yorkers who fled the state to escape the outbreak that they must self-quarantine for 14 days as the state, and nation as a whole, continues in its efforts to slow the spread of the…
Rhode Island police and members of the Rhode Island National Guard went door to door over the weekend to inform New Yorkers who fled the state to escape the outbreak that they must self-quarantine for 14 days as the state, and nation as a whole, continues in its efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) on Friday identified travelers from New York City as a massive risk to the Ocean State — an assertion New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) took issue with, ultimately threatening to sue.
“Right now we have a pinpointed risk,” Raimondo said at Friday’s news conference. “That risk is called New York City.”
She called for a mandated 14-day quarantine for New Yorkers flocking to the state. Rhode Island State police also set up checkpoints to stop cars with New York license plates.
On Saturday, police and members of the Rhode Island National Guard patrolled beach communities, knocking on doors of homes with cars donning New York license plates.
“So today, we’re actually going to be going driveway to driveway to identify New York vehicles in driveways,” Westerly Chief of Police Shawn Lacey said on Saturday.
He said the police department had received several calls of residents spotting New York license plates, and the department has been responding accordingly.
“If somebody has a concern of New York vehicles parked in a particular driveway or address that aren’t usually there, or the people that own the house and are in, we have no problem with them notifying us,” Lacey said.
“We will send an officer to that house to notify them of the mandated quarantine,” he continued.
“This is more of an educational tool to make people aware,” he added. “I think our presence being out there it’s going to make people aware of what’s going on.”
While Cuomo took issue with Raimondo’s target of New Yorkers, she ultimately expanded her order to all travelers flocking to the state.
“All out-of-state passenger vehicles will be required to stop at one of the information centers on the highway and secondary roads,” Rhode Island State Police Superintendent Col. James Manni said.
The order does not apply to commercial vehicles, and those passing through the state will be able to proceed. However, those staying are told of the mandated 14-day quarantine and are required to give authorities their contact information, which is transferred to the Department of Health.
“We are very hopeful that the people follow these directions and will voluntarily stop at the information stations,” Manni said.
The door to door checks have also been expanded to all travelers, but “they are still determining which communities they will focus those check-ins,” TurnTo10 reported.
“I spoke to the governor of Rhode Island yesterday, and we had a conversation,” Cuomo said over the weekend. “I don’t think the order was called for. I don’t believe it was legal. I don’t think it was neighborly.”
“I understood the point, but I thought there were different ways to do it and the governor of Rhode Island was very receptive and I thank her very much for reconsidering her position,” he said.
“I did talk to the governor of New York yesterday. It was after I had already taken my action and we chatted about it,” Raimondo said of their conversation, subtly dismissing Cuomo’s seeming claim to victory.
“If he feels it’s important for him to take credit, go ahead I’m going to keep working here to keep Rhode Islanders safe,” she added. “I think it’s odd that Governor Cuomo is focused on this sort of politics at a time we are fighting disasters.”
Residents of Rhode Island are currently under a stay-at-home order, which expires April 13.
Rhode Island had nearly 300 cases of the coronavirus and three virus-related deaths as of Sunday.
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