The World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday, 8 April, pleaded for the need of global unity in fighting the coronavirus.

The action was consquent to US President Donald Trump's stinging attack on its handling of the pandemic.

WHO chief
WHO chief

"Please quarantine politicizing COVID. If we want to win, we shouldn't waste time pointing fingers," World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged here, saying "Unity is the only option to defeat this virus."

As the WHO prepares to mark 100 days on Thursday since it was first notified of the outbreak in China, director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hit back at accusations that it had been too close to Beijing.

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Trump on Tuesday had accused the WHO having "called it wrong" and months too late, while taking US money but favouring China.

Answering a question from the press about US President Donald Trump's threat to freeze US funding to the WHO, Tedros on Wednesday said his message for the world at this moment is unity and solidarity, instead of politicizing the virus, Xinhua news agency reported.

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"The focus of all political parties should be to save their people. Please don't politicise this virus. If you don't want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicising it," the WHO chief argued, before adding later: "It's like playing with fire." Citing the death toll and number of infections, Tedros implored: "For God's sake... is this not enough?"

"I will suggest two things to the world," he told a virtual press conference from Geneva. The first is national unity, and the second is global solidarity.

Tedros stressed that at the national level, leaders should work across party lines.

'Work across party lines'

"My message to political parties: do not politicize this virus. If you care for your people, work across party lines and ideologies ... Without unity, we assure you, even any country that may have a better system will be in trouble, and more crises," Tedros noted.

"No need to use COVID to score political points. You have many other ways to prove yourselves. This is not the one to use for politics, It's like playing with fire," Tedros added.

WHO Geneva headquarters
WHO Geneva headquarters

The WHO was deemed too alarmist when it faced the H1N1 epidemic in 2009 but five years later it was accused of dragging its feet in declaring an emergency over the Ebola outbreak in west Africa, which killed more than 11,000 people.

"It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world's efforts to win the war against COVID-19," said Guterres in a statement.