Coronavirus: 120 countries unite to corner China; Xi Jinping agrees to probe, WHO's actions under scanner

Coronavirus: 120 countries unite to corner China; Xi Jinping agrees to probe, WHO's actions under scanner

All along, China has worked with openness, transparency and responsibility. China has provided information to WHO and relevant countries in most timely fashion, says Chinese President Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping Chinese President Xi Jinping

China has agreed to a probe into the source of coronavirus infection but with certain conditions. On the first day of the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA), Chinese President Xi Jinping, during a video-conference from Beijing, said his country was ready for a "comprehensive review" of the origin of the virus but only after the pandemic was brought under control. "All along, we have worked with openness, transparency and responsibility. We have provided information to the WHO and relevant countries in the most timely fashion," Xi said.

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World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus bowed to calls by most member states that sought a probe into the virus source via an EU draft resolution. The resolution that seeks "impartial" probe has been backed by over 120 countries, including India. The probe will also find out the WHO's role in the international response to the coronavirus amid finger-pointing between the US and China.

However, no timeline has been mentioned regarding the completion of the investigation.

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The resolution says: "OP9.10 Initiate, at the earliest appropriate moment, and in consultation with the Member States, a stepwise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation, including using existing mechanisms, as appropriate, to review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to Covid-19, including (i) the effectiveness of the mechanisms at WHO's disposal; (ii) the functioning of the IHR and the status of implementation of the relevant recommendations of the previous IHR Review Committees; (iii) WHO's contribution to United Nations-wide efforts; and (iv) the actions of WHO and their timelines pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, and make recommendations to improve global pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response capacity, including through strengthening, as appropriate, WHO's Health Emergencies Programme."

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It also requests the WHO to continue to work to "identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population".

WHA chief Keva Bain also announced the body would adopt the proposal seeking "inclusion of Taiwan to participate in the World Health Assembly as an observer". The proposal was adopted unanimously but China has maintained Taiwan will have to adhere to the 'One China policy' before it's considered 'observer" at the UN assembly.

Coronavirus pandemic has claimed over 3,00,000 lives all over the world and has affected millions in around 213 countries, while destroying world economies.

Coronavirus-induced lockdown for over 50 days has also crippled the Indian economy. The country is staring at a massive decline in its GDP due to no business activity for around two months. Global investment firm Goldman Sachs has projected that India could experience its worst-ever recession. It anticipates India's Gross Domestic Product to contract by 45 per cent in the June quarter.

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