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But, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has felt the wrath of Beijing, after China threatened to decimate his country’s economy unless the inquiry initiative is dropped. The need for an inquiry will be voted on by 194 nations at the World Health Assembly on Tuesday. China has increased its belligerent threats towards Australia with a suggestion they may place a crippling tariff on barley exports.
The wording of the inquiry so far fails to mention China, but the nuances all point to an effort to uncover attempts by Beijing to cover-up the outbreak at the early stages.
The pandemic has caused world economies to fall into recession, with many questioning why they should repay the sovereign debt they owe China after the disease spread from Wuhan because of Beijing’s lack of transparency.
At present global cases of infection have surged over 4.7 million, with 313,713 dead and million still sick with the disease.
Australia’s inquiry efforts are now backed by the entire 27-member European Union.
The need for an investigation is also supported by New Zealand, Indonesia, Japan, the UK, India, Canada, Russia, Mexico and Brazil, and is to be put before the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland on Tuesday.
Opponents of Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggest that he is using the inquiry probe idea as a way to distract from his own failings during the early days of the virus’ outbreak in his own country.
Mr Morrison’s approval rating has increased since he announced the inquiry initiative.
Early on in the pandemic, many Australians accused him of failing to take swift action or give clarity and structure to show his government was up to the task of dealing with the imminent threat of the virus.
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The motion that Australia will put to the World Health Assembly requires the director-general of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to “initiate at the earliest appropriate moment, and in consultation with the Member States, a stepwise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation”.
The details of the motion call for an investigation into all the “experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19”.
Australia’s inquiry also wants and evaluation of the “effectiveness of the mechanisms at WHO’s disposal and the actions of WHO and their timelines pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic”.
The US, however, has pushed for even tougher language calling for the motion to name Wuhan specifically and asks for an investigation of the epicentre of the disease.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged all nations to back Australia’s call for answers.
The motion comes in light of the fact that China’s President Xi Jinping knew about the coronavirus on January 7, yet China only shut down the epicentre of the outbreak, Hubei province, on January 23, after five million people had left to travel through China and to the rest of the world.
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