The World Health Organization on Friday advised countries like the U.S. and China to put aside politics as they respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
“This is very obviously a tense political environment because of the economic issues and because of everything else,” said Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program. “Please, let our scientists get on. Let our public health professionals get on. Let them work together, and we find answers to this.”
Ryan advised “all of us” to “avoid politicizing the situation right now.”
Coronavirus in China’s Wuhan: Epicenter of Epidemic
Photos: The Epicenter of Coronavirus
His comments come after White House advisor Larry Kudlow said publicly the Trump administration was “quite disappointed” with China’s response to the outbreak. He added that the administration was not happy that China has not accepted an invitation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to send experts into the country.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNN on Friday that some U.S. scientists will be on a WHO team that will deploy to China.
Global health officials report roughly 63,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 1,300 deaths.
WHO officials said they have asked China for more information about the country’s testing methodology after it reported a massive spike in cases in Hubei Province this week.
“While it’s not uncommon in outbreaks for case definitions to change over time as more information becomes available, we are seeking further clarity on how clinical diagnosis is being made, to ensure other respiratory illnesses including influenza are not getting mixed into the COVID-19 data,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization director general, referring to the virus by its new official designation.
For the first time, China reported the number of health workers with the disease: 1,716. But WHO also has questions about the figure.
“This is a critical piece of information, because health workers are the glue that holds the health system and outbreak response together,” Tedros said. “But we need to know more about this figure, including the time period and circumstances in which the health workers became sick.”