“Please quarantine politicizing COVID. If we want to win, we shouldn’t waste time pointing fingers…Unity is the only option to defeat this virus,” World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday.
“I will suggest two things to the world,” he told a virtual press conference from Geneva when answering a question about U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to withhold funds for the UN agency. “The first is national unity, and the second is global solidarity.”
Trump on Tuesday criticized the WHO’s response to COVID-19 and threatened to freeze U.S. funding for it.
Tedros stressed that at the national level, leaders should work across party lines.
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“My message to political parties: do not politicize this virus. If you care for your people, work across party lines and ideologies … Without unity, we assure you, even any country that may have a better system will be in trouble, and more crises,” Tedros noted.
“No need to use COVID to score political points. You have many other ways to prove yourselves. This is not the one to use for politics, it’s like playing with fire,” Tedros added.
“Now, the United States and China, all the rest of G20 and the rest of the world should come together to fight the virus,” he said, adding that the virus succeeds when there are cracks at the national level and global level.
Earlier in the day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for supporting the WHO during the COVID-19 crisis in the face of Trump’s threat.
The WHO, with thousands of its staff, is on the frontlines, supporting member states and their societies, especially the most vulnerable among them, Guterres said in a statement. “It is my belief that the WHO must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19.”
Now is the time for unity, for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences, rather than for evaluating the performance of all involved, he said.