Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is facing growing calls to step down from US politicians for trusting the communist regime’s official reporting about the extent of the spread of the disease.
Republican Senator Martha McSally said Dr Tedros should resign over the ‘Chinese cover-up’.
She told Fox News that part of the blame for China’s lack of transparency lay with the WHO director-general.
McSally claimed that the Ethiopian, 55, ‘deceived the world’ and even praised China’s ‘transparency’ during its coronavirus response.
She added that she ‘never trusted a communist’ and that the Chinese government’s ‘cover-up of this virus that originated with them has caused unnecessary deaths around America and around the world…I think Dr Tedros needs to step down’.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director -general of the World Health Organization speaking during a news conference last month. He has faced growing calls to step down
The senator said: ‘Dr Tedros deceived the world. At one point, he even praised China’s ‘transparency during its coronavirus response efforts” despite a mountain of evidence showing the regime concealed the severity of the outbreak. This deception cost lives.’
In February, when China reported 17,238 infections and 361 deaths, Tedros said there was no need impose travel restrictions.
He said measures that ‘unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade’ were not needed in trying to halt the spread of the virus.
On March 20, he praised the Chinese regime, saying: ‘For the first time, #China has reported no domestic #COVID19 cases yesterday. This is an amazing achievement, which gives us all reassurance that the #coronavirus can be beaten.’
China has been accused of significantly downplaying its official virus cases, with some estimates suggesting their death toll could be as high as 40,000.
So far China has officially recorded more than 81,000 cases with over 3,300 deaths.
But activists in Wuhan, where the outbreak began, claimed funeral homes are handing out 500 urns a day each, more than necessary for the 2,548 people who have officially died of the virus there.
Sen. Martha McSally at a rally for President Donald Trump in Phoenix in February. She has joined other Republicans in calling for Dr Tedros to resign
Long queues at the funeral homes have fuelled scepticism about China’s numbers, prompting claims that 42,000 people or more could have died in Wuhan alone.
The country has recorded 3,331 deaths from coronavirus and 81,708 cases but many have speculated that this number is much higher and that China is trying to cover up the true reality of the spread.
Delay and deceit over the origins of the outbreak cost precious time – and many thousands of lives both in China and subsequently in the rest of the world.
Scepticism about China’s numbers has swirled throughout the crisis, fuelled by official efforts to quash bad news in the early days and a general distrust of the government.
A whistleblowing doctor, who first alerted the rest of the world to the escalating crisis within Hubei province, was sanctioned by medical authorities and police.
Dr Li Wenliang, who later died of the virus, was called in by both medical officials and the police and forced to sign a statement denouncing his warning as an unfounded and illegal rumour in early January.
People wearing protective face masks walking at a shopping area in Wuhan, China, today, where the coronavirus outbreak began
The health system in Wuhan, the city where three-fourths of China’s victims died, was overwhelmed at the peak of the outbreak.
Hospitals overflowed, patients with symptoms were sent home and there weren’t enough kits to test everyone.
An unidentified doctor told Caixin, a Chinese magazine, that the death toll for suspected cases at the doctor’s hospital was almost as high as for confirmed ones over a 20-day period.
Dr Li Wenliang at The Central Hospital of Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province. He later died of coronavirus after raising the alarm about the disease
Others died at home before they were tested, since hospitals didn’t have enough beds to admit them.
At the time, some people in China asked on social media whether the reported death toll was inaccurate for those reasons.
The posts have been deleted, probably victims of censorship.
Hsu Li Yang, who heads the infectious diseases program at the National University of Singapore, said: ‘The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 by country appears like a grim league table and draws the attention of many.
‘However, it is important to understand that these numbers – be it from China, Italy, Singapore or the USA – are all inaccurate, and they are all underestimates to varying degrees of the actual number of infections.’
The US has recorded more than 337,000 infections and a total of over 9,600 fatalities from the disease.
Texan Republican Senator, Ted Cruz, also joined calls for the WHO to consider removing Tedros.
His spokesman told The Washington Free Beacon: ‘The World Health Organization has consistently bent to the will of the Chinese Communist Party at the expense of global health and of containing the spread of the coronavirus, from downplaying the extent of the virus to systematically excluding Taiwan.
‘Sen. Cruz believes that the WHO has lost the credibility necessary for it to be effective, and a reevaluation of its leadership is urgently called for.’
Florida’s Marco Rubio also called for Tedros to be held accountable for the NGO’s handling of the pandemic.
The senator said: ‘Once this pandemic is under control, WHO leadership should be held to account. That includes Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has allowed Beijing to use the WHO to mislead the global community.
A police officer saluting to the Chinese medical workers from Shandong province as they got onto a bus to leave Wuhan today as lockdown restrictions have begun to be relaxed
‘At this moment, [Tedros] is either complicit or dangerously incompetent. Neither possibility bodes well for his future at the helm of this critical organization.’
Former US Ambassador to the UN, the WHO’s parent organisation, Nikki Haley, also criticised the WHO over its previous statements about the virus.
She tweeted: ‘This was posted by the WHO on January 14th’, and that the WHO ‘found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission’ of the coronavirus.
‘The WHO owes an explanation to the world of why they took China’s word for it. So much suffering has been caused by the mishandling of information and lack of accountability by the Chinese.’
Over the weekend it emerged China has been been given a place on the UN Human Rights Council despite a long-record of human rights abuses.