The World Health Organization agreed Monday to launch an independent investigation of how it led the international effort to deal with COVID-19. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the announcement at the U.N. agency’s yearly General Assembly.
A coalition of WHO member countries had called for such an investigation. Tedros said the examination would not seek to answer the hotly debated issue of where and how the virus came to be.
American President Donald Trump has claimed he has proof suggesting the coronavirus was created in a lab in China. China denies the accusation. The scientific community says all evidence to date shows that the virus jumped to humans from animals.
Trump has repeatedly attacked the WHO, claiming that it helped China hide the extent of the coronavirus spread. Several Republican Party lawmakers have called on Tedros to resign.
Earlier Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that he supports calls for an investigation to learn how the coronavirus started and spread. But he argued for such action to start only after the worldwide health crisis is under control.
Xi spoke at the online WHO gathering.
The new coronavirus was first publicly identified in China in late December. It has since spread around the world, killing more than 315,000 people and infecting almost 4.8 million.
At the meeting Monday, Xi said China has always been “transparent” about its knowledge of the virus. He also announced that his country would provide $2 billion for the fight against COVID-19 over two years.
Governments around the world have been enforcing stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of the virus. Many also have called on people to wear face coverings and stay physically distant from others when they must go out in public. Those measures have brought economies to a halt. On Monday, Japan became the latest country to report that its economy is in recession.
Governments, especially in Europe, are starting to ease restrictions after reporting progress in bringing infection and deaths rates down. Belgium on Monday permitted stores and museums to reopen. More students returned to schools.
International travel restrictions are still in place in many areas, but some popular sites are reopening, including the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, and Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.
In India, a rise in new infections has led the government to extend its nationwide lockdown through the end of the month. The government reported more than 5,000 new cases and 157 deaths Monday.
Egypt is closing stores, beaches and parks during the holiday that marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Egypt also has established a nighttime curfew.
The United States is easing some restrictions. It leads the world in numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths, with about 1.5 million confirmed cases and 90,000 deaths.
I'm Caty Weaver.
VOA News reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for Learning English. George Grow and Ashley Thompson were the editors.
Words in This Story
transparent -adj. honest and open: not secretive
museum -n. a building in which interesting and valuable things (such as paintings and sculptures or scientific or historical objects) are collected and shown to the public
lockdown -n. an emergency measure or condition in which people are temporarily prevented from entering or leaving a restricted area or building (such as a school) during a threat of danger
beach -n. an area covered with sand or small rocks that is next to an ocean or lake
park -n. a piece of public land in or near a city that is kept free of houses and other buildings and can be used for pleasure and exercise