COVID-19: WHO kicks off 1st virtual assembly amid calls for coronavirus probe

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COVID-19: WHO kicks off 1st virtual assembly amid calls for coronavirus probe
COVID-19: WHO kicks off 1st virtual assembly amid calls for coronavirus probe

The World Health Organization kicked off its first virtual assembly on Monday as more than 100 of the body’s 194 member nations, including the United States, now back a resolution calling for an independent probe into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic.

The draft resolution will be presented on Monday, the first day of the 73rd World Health Assembly. Although the resolution does not specifically name China, many countries have accused Beijing of withholding information about the novel coronavirus, which was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan back in December.

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Speaking by video conference at the opening of the two-day gathering, Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country would support a “comprehensive review” into the pandemic once it “has been brought under control.” Xi added that the investigation must be done in an “objective and impartial manner.” He also pledged to donate $2 billion over two years to the WHO.

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“All along,” Xi said, “we have acted with openness, transparency and responsibility.”

During his opening remarks, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world has “been humbled by this very small microbe” as he urged officials to “treat this virus with the respect and attention it deserves.”

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“Six months ago, it would have been inconceivable to most that the world’s biggest cities would fall,” Tedros added. “But numbers don’t even begin to tell the story of this virus. Each loss of life leaves a scar for families, communities and nations.”

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