The coronavirus or COVID-19, which surfaced in a Chinese seafood and poultry market in December last year, has spread to at least 177 countries, killing over 120,000 people and infecting more than a million in a matter of weeks.
Most people who contract the disease suffer mild symptoms, such as a cough, cold, or a high temperature.
However, in more severe cases, the infection can cause breathing difficulties and even pneumonia. The world is still learning about how COVID-19 affects people. But those at higher risk include older persons and people with pre-existing medical conditions, including diabetes, heart ailments, and sicknesses affecting the lungs. There is currently no specific treatment available and finding an effective medication to prevent further infection as a public health priority.
On January 31, The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the coronavirus a “public health emergency of international concern” and on March 11 declared it a pandemic..
During earlier press briefings, WHO officials maintained that COVID-19 had “pandemic potential,” but stopped short of declaring it. On March 11 though, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic
By 18 April, there were approximately 2,278,693 global cases of COVID-19, while there had been 156,234 deaths. The United States, Italy and Spain have been the three countries hardest hit by the pandemic.
In the US, by 18 April, more than 728,293 cases of COVID-19 had been reported across that country, with the majority of cases found in the state of New York with 222,284 infections. Meanwhile the death toll in the US has risen to 34,641.
In Italy, 168,941 persons have been infected with the disease and 22,170 have died, while in Spain 188,093 people have been infected by the disease with 19,613 fatalities. Worldwide 2,312,323 people have fallen victim to the disease with 158,886 fatalities.
In Sri Lanka, thankfully as at writing the numbers of those infected and those killed by the virus have been low... with 248 infections and 7 fatalities
And it was in the midst of this unprecedented global health crisis, US President Donald Trump decided on April 15 to cut US funding to the WHO, accusing the international body of “severely mismanaging and covering up” the threat posed by the coronavirus! Leading health experts described the President’s move as “appalling” and “a crime against humanity”.
In reality, the WHO had, as we have pointed out, warned as early as in January 2020, of an impending disaster, whereas Trump continued with his election rallies and compared the coronavirus to a common flu, accusing the WHO and all others who pointed out the possibility of a pandemic of being bearers of ‘FAKE NEWS’.
Trump also charged WHO had “defended the actions of the Chinese government’s handling of the crisis. His withdrawal of funds to that organization, he said, was a penalty the organization had to pay for its mistakes. Yet on January 24, Trump, the Guardian reports tweeted his thanks to the Chinese for their work on the virus, praising their “efforts and transparency”
The question on the lips of hundreds of millions of people is therefore, why would an American President – the leader of a country which many (misguidedly perhaps) believed leads the world’s efforts to eradicate deadly diseases, suddenly target the body leading the fight against the death-dealing COVID-19.
Why would the leader of the ‘Free World’ suddenly penalize the body that is leading its efforts to combat the dreaded coronavirus? After all, cutting off a sizable chunk of funding at this crucial stage, could effectively stifle efforts in the search for medication to combat the pandemic, which is wreaking havoc the world over today and especially in the US, which now has the largest number of coronavirus-affected persons – 738,923 affected persons and 39,015 fatalities.
The answer is, after having badly misjudged the dangers posed by the virus and the disastrous consequences the US is facing because of his (Trump’s) bad decisions, President Trump now needs to find someone other than himself to blame for his administration’s complacent and dysfunctional response to the crisis. After all, the US is in election year, and it is reelection year for President Trump.