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Coronavirus

WHO Chief Pledges Independent Evaluation of Coronavirus Response

GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization says he will begin an independent evaluation of the U.N. health agency’s response to the coronavirus pandemic “at the earliest appropriate moment.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the pledge Monday after an independent oversight advisory body published its first interim report about the U.N. health agency’s response to COVID-19 from January to April.

The 11-page report raised questions such as whether WHO’s warning system for alerting the world to outbreaks is adequate, and suggested member states might need to “reassess” WHO’s role in providing travel advice to countries.

The advisory body’s review and recommendations appeared unlikely to appease the United States administration, which has been scathing in its criticism of WHO — in part over President Donald Trump’s allegation that it had criticized a U.S. travel ban that he ordered on people arriving from China, where the outbreak first appeared late last year.

Trump ordered a temporary suspension of funding for WHO from the United States — the health agency’s biggest single donor — pending a review of its early response. But the review panel, echoing comments from many countries, said such a review during the “heat of the response” could hurt WHO’s ability to respond to it.

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