U.S. withdrawal from WHO “extraordinarily bad decision” – Ashish Jha

Photo taken on Jan. 22, 2020 shows an exterior view of the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO on Wednesday night extended to Thursday its emergency talks on whether the novel coronavirus outbreak in China constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). (Xinhua/Liu Qu)

Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute Dr. Ashish Jha criticized the U.S. move to officially withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday, noting that its blame on WHO for not investigating the COVID-19 outbreak in China is “deeply disingenuous.”

“I think it’s an extraordinarily bad decision that will both harm global public health and harm the health of the American people,” Jha was quoted as saying by the New York Times. “It’s unclear to me how the American people benefit by not being at the table and not being able to shape those policies.”

He added that Washington’s blame on the organization for not investigating the COVID-19 outbreak in China is “deeply disingenuous.” “WHO can’t push its way into China, any more than it can investigate why our outbreak is so bad in Arizona or why we’re botching the response as badly as we are,” the expert said.

The confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. state of Arizona exceeded 108,000 as of Wednesday with 1,963 deaths, the state’s Department of Health Services said.

He also called on the White House to adhere to science, encourage people to wear masks and conduct social distancing as the country has reported more than 3 million COVID-19 cases with over 132,000 deaths, which are far higher than those in any other country or region, according to the latest Johns Hopkins University tally.

“There’s been a lot of mixed messaging on masks and social distancing and so all of that has contributed to what I think is a perilous moment for our country,” Jha said.

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