Chinese Ambassador Says “Independent” WHO Investigation Is “A Joke”: Virus Updates

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
Tue, 05/19/2020


Chinese ambassador in Canberra says notion that WHO investigation satisfies Australia’s call for “independent” probe is “a joke”
Trump threatens to permanently pull funding and end membership of WHO
Brazil overtakes UK to become world’s 3rd-largest outbreak
India’s case total passes 100k
Navajo Nation now home to “biggest outbreak in the US” per CNN
Singapore plans to start phased reopening on June 2
Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque set to reopen after Eid
* * *

The big news on Tuesday is the meeting of the World Health Assembly, which is expected to back a WHO-sponsored inquiry into China’s handling of the early days of the coronavirus outbreak. Last night, President Trump delivered a threatening letter where the US warned it could permanently cut funding and even cancel its membership in the WHO.

In response, China accused the US of trying to divert the world’s attention from President Trump’s handling of the outbreak by playing a “blame game” with Beijing. The White House has leveled similar accusations at Beijing. But even more tellingly, China’s ambassador in Canberra slammed Australia’s call for an independent investigation into China’s handling of the early days of the outbreak as “a joke”. The ambassador claimed the the investigation about to be authorized by the WHA doesn’t resemble the type of inquiry that Australia has called for. This gloating comes after President Xi said he’d welcome a comprehensive review, but only after the outbreak has subsided.

“To claim the WHA’s resolution a vindication of Australia’s call is nothing but a joke,” the ambassador said.

After passing the 1.5 million confirmed case threshold yesterday, globally, there have now been more than 4.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 318,500 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 1.8 million people have recovered.

Some of the latest local updates include Russia, which reported 9,263 new cases and 115 new deaths on Tuesday morning, bringing its case total to 299,941 and 2,837 deaths. In Germany, where the gradual economic reopening has continued unabated, public health officials reported just 513 news cases, bringing Germany’s total to 175,210 cases, while reporting another 72 deaths, bringing the total to 8,007 deaths. Last night, Brazil passed the UK to become the country with the third-largest outbreak in the world after reporting another ~13k cases.

Additionally, India passed the 100k official-case threshold just days after extending its extremely stringent lockdown for another 2 weeks. Health officials reported 4,970 new cases, bringing India’s total to 101,139 cases and 132 deaths, bringing the death toll to 3,163. While India has overtaken China on the ‘official’ numbers, it’s widely believed the outbreak in the mainland was much worse than the official numbers reflect, and more than 40 new cases have been reported in Wuhan and the northeastern Jilin province over the past couple of weeks, resulting in intense new shutdown measures.

As western European states continue to loosen their travel restrictions, Spain has lifted a ban on all direct flights and ships from Italy, though travelers from Italy will have to comply with a two-week quarantine like other foreign visitors until Spain’s state of emergency is officially lifted.

Over in the US, CNN has apparently decided to focus on the plight of the Navajo Nation out west, claiming in a piece published last night that the Native American community is now home to the biggest outbreak in the country (a designation CNN once used to describe a meatpacking plant in South Dakota).

The Navajo Nation reported 69 new coronavirus cases and two additional deaths on Monday, according to a news release from the Navajo Nation president and vice president, which brought the nation’s case total to 4,071, along with 142 deaths, out of a population of roughly 200k. Of course, the rate of ~2,035 infections per 100k would put the nation’s infection rate well above that of most US states. But we suspect this isn’t really an apples-to-apples comparison.

Moving on to the big news in Washington DC on Tuesday: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will testify before the Senate on the coronavirus response: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will testify starting at 10amET before the Senate Banking Committee, where they will deliver “The Quarterly CARES Act Report to Congress” – testimony that’s mandated as per the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill.

Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump will meet with industry leaders, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Lockheed Martin CEO Marilyn Hewson and IBM executive Ginni Rometty, via Zoom on Tuesday.

As the outbreak in his country rages out of control, Russian PM Mikhail Mishustin has returned to his post after taking nearly 3 weeks off to recover from the virus, during which time the outbreak in his country has careened out of control.

We haven’t heard much from Singapore in a few days as the city-state’s strict new lockdown and testing campaigns appeared to finally cut down on the number of migrant workers falling ill from the virus. Singapore reported just 451 (higher than Monday’s lower but well below the city-state’s peak) new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, as the dissipation of this second wave of migrant worker infections faded. However, Singapore’s government has issued a warning about the increased risk of patients catching dengue fever due to the lockdown, the latest indication of how the shutdown in non-emergency health services could lead to ancillary health crises around the world.

Singapore also apologized to 357 COVID-19 patients who received an erroneous text message saying they had again tested positive for the virus, when they hadn’t. Singapore’s leadership also announced on Tuesday plans to begin a 3-stage reopening on June 2.

In Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa Mosque will reopen to worshippers after the Eid holiday, according to a statement from its governing body.

“The council decided to lift the suspension on worshippers entering the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque after the Eid al-Fitr holiday,” according to a statement from the Waqf organisation said.

Finally, in Hong Kong, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Tuesday that social distancing measures prohibiting gatherings of more than eight people would be extended in a transparent attempt to quash resurgent anti-Beijing protests, which have reemerged as the coronavirus outbreak in the autonomous region have subsided.

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