Daily Archives: May 20, 2020

GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization expressed concern on Wednesday about the rising number of new coronavirus cases in poor countries, even as many rich nations have begun emerging from lockdown

The global health body said 106,000 new cases of infections of the novel coronavirus had been recorded in the past 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began.

“We still have a long way to go in this pandemic,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference. “We are very concerned about rising cases in low and middle income countries.”

Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies programme, said: “We will soon reach the tragic milestone of 5 million cases.”

The WHO has come under fire from U.S. President Donald Trump, who accuses it of having mishandled the outbreak and of favouring China, where the virus is believed to have emerged late last year. This week Trump threatened to withdraw from the WHO and permanently withhold funding.

Tedros acknowledged receiving a letter from Trump, but declined to comment further.

Tedros said he was committed to accountability and would carry out a review into the response to the pandemic. Such a review was demanded by member states in a resolution this week that was passed by consensus, although the United States expressed reservations about some elements of it.

“I said it time and time again that WHO calls for accountability more than anyone. It has to be done and when it’s done it has to be a comprehensive one,” Tedros said of the review, while declining to say when it would start.

Ryan said such assessments are normally conducted after an emergency is over.

“I for one would prefer, right now, to get on with doing the job of an emergency response, of epidemic control, of developing and distributing vaccines, of improving our surveillance, of saving lives and distributing essential PPE to workers and finding medical oxygen for people in fragile settings, reducing the impact of this disease on refugees and migrants,” he said.

Tedros said he had long been looking for other sources of funding for the WHO, saying its $2.3 billion budget was “very, very small” for a global agency, around that of a medium sized hospital in the developed world.

In comments that could further annoy Trump, Ryan, said people should avoid using the malaria medicine hydroxychloroquine to treat or prevent coronavirus infection, except as part of a clinical trial to study it.

Trump has said he is taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus infection.

“At this stage, (neither) hydroxychloroquine nor chloroquine have been as yet found to be effective in the treatment of COVID-19 nor in the prophylaxis against coming down with the disease,” Ryan said. “In fact, the opposite, in that warnings have been issued by many authorities regarding the potential side effects of the drug.”

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, Emma Farge in Geneva and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi in Zurich; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Giles Elgood

 

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media following the weekly Senate Republican caucus luncheon at the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. Trump threatened to withdraw altogether from the World Health Organization, a move that would leave Chinese leader Xi Jinping as the most prominent voice leading the global fight against the pandemic. Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Wednesday called plans for expanded mail-in voting in Michigan and Nevada illegal, without citing a specific law, and threatened to withhold funding to the states – the latest Republican move to try to undo steps aimed at making it easier and safer to vote during the coronavirus pandemic.

States have broad powers on setting rules for voting. Trump, who has expressed his opposition to mail-in voting, said without evidence that the efforts in Michigan and Nevada – states that could be pivotal in his Nov. 3 re-election bid – could lead to voter fraud.

“This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!” Trump wrote on Twitter

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Tuesday said all 7.7 million Michigan voters would receive absentee ballot applications before the Aug. 4 state primaries and the November general election so no one “has to choose between their health and their right to vote.”

Nevada has made its June 9 state primaries an all-mail election, sending absentee ballots to registered voters. The state official responsible for elections is a Republican.

“State of Nevada ‘thinks’ that they can send out illegal vote by mail ballots, creating a great Voter Fraud scenario for the State and the U.S. They can’t! If they do, ‘I think’ I can hold up funds to the State,” Trump tweeted.

Democrats have accused Republicans of voter suppression efforts intended to reduce participation by voters who tend to back Democrats. Republicans blocked a move by Wisconsin’s Democratic governor to make last month’s primary an all-mail election amid the pandemic.

Trump has said mail-in voting leads to fraud. Numerous studies have found little evidence of that. Democrats have said mail-in voting is a safer alternative to in-person balloting during the pandemic, helping to prevent crowds at polling places.

Reporting by Lisa Lambert and John Whitesides; Editing by Will Dunham, Andrew Heavens and Chizu Nomiyama

 

 

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