THE World Health Organisation has been accused of "parroting Chinese propaganda" during the spiraling coronavirus pandemic.
It is facing growing criticism for its handling of the crisis and for its perceived closeness to the Communist government in Beijing.
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International observers have blasted the organisation for lacking credibility and for heaping praise on the country at the centre of the deadly outbreak.
They point to the fact the WHO echoed China's initial claims the virus could not be transmitted between humans and accepted the regime's statistics seemingly without question.
The claims come as the pandemic reached a grim milestone with the number of people infected worldwide topping one million.
Covid-19 has now claimed the lives of more than 53,000 victims across 183 countries despite half of the world's population being under some form of lockdown.
A Change.org petition calling for the resignation of WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has already reached 700,000 signatures.
It reads: "A lot of us are really disappointed, we believe WHO is supposed to be political neutral.
"Without any investigation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus solely believes on the death and infected numbers that the Chinese government provided with them."
Many have accused the WHO – a United Nations organisation – of being taken in by China from the very first days of the outbreak
And its international experts didn’t get access to the virus-stricken country until Tedros visited President Xi Jinping at the end of January.
The WHO didn't classify the coronavirus a pandemic until March 11 – by then there were more than 120,000 confirmed cases and nearly 4,400 deaths.
And even after stories emerged showing China had tried to cover up the outbreak in Wuhan, Tedros praised President Xi Jinping's country for its “transparency”.
“We appreciate the seriousness with which China is taking this outbreak,” he said in a statement on January 28.
He then hit out countries including the US for inciting “fear and stigma” by denying entry to travellers from China.
Tedros said there was “no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade."
And when asked by a journalist if the WHO had felt pressure to back China he quickly hit back, reports news.com.
“China took action massively at the epicentre, at the source of the outbreak…and that helped in preventing cases from being exported to other provinces in China and the rest of the world,” he said.
“What's wrong with acknowledging this? Because they're saying the actions of China are making us safer.
"We should tell the truth and that's the truth. China doesn't need to ask to be praised and I don't expect any country asks to be praised.”
Regional experts believe the WHO have allowed themselves to be hoodwinked by Beijing and others have accused them of parroting Chinese propaganda.
“I thought the greatest success of the Chinese party-state was in getting the WHO to focus on the positive sides of China’s responses and ignore the negative sides of the responses,” said Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the SOAS University of London.
“With the WHO presenting China’s responses in a positive light, the Chinese government is able to make its propaganda campaign to ignore its earlier mistakes appear credible and to ignore the human, societal, and economic costs of its responses.”
On Tuesday, Republican Senator for Florida Rick Scott called for a congressional hearing to investigate the WHO's role during the outbreak.
“The mission of the WHO is to get public health information to the world so every country can make the best decisions to keep their citizens safe,” he said.
Mr Scott suggested the US, which is the single largest contributor to the WHO’s annual budget at 15 per cent, should review its funding.
He questioned “whether American taxpayers should continue to spend millions of dollars every year to fund an organisation that willfully parroted propaganda from the Chinese Communist Party”.
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