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Taiwan demands apology from WHO chief over virus ‘slander’

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Taiwan demanded an apology from the World Health Organization chief on Thursday after he accused the island’s government of leading personal attacks against him and his agency’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for unity to fight the disease on Wednesday after US President Donald Trump criticised the global health body and threatened to cut its funding.

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During the press conference he spoke of the abuse — including racial slurs — he had been subjected to since the public health crisis began.

Tedros largely avoided mentioning Trump by name but he did single out the government in Taipei, which has been frozen out of the WHO after political pressure from Beijing.

“Three months ago, this attack came from Taiwan,” he told reporters in Geneva.

“They didn’t disassociate themselves. They even started criticising me in the middle of all that insult and slur, but I didn’t care,” Tedros said.

The comments sparked anger in Taiwan, which described Tedros’ comments as “baseless”.

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“Our country has never encouraged the public to launch personal attacks against him or made any racially discriminatory comments,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou told reporters on Thursday.

“Our government demands an immediate clarification and an apology from director-general Tedros over such extremely irresponsible act of slander,” she added.

– Worsening relations –

Relations between the WHO and Taiwan have worsened considerably since the pandemic began, even as health experts have lauded Taiwan for its response to the virus.

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It has just 379 confirmed COVID-19 patients and five deaths despite its close proximity and trade links with China, where the pandemic began.

Taiwan used to be able to obtain observer status at the WHO’s annual assembly.

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But diplomatic pressure from Beijing in recent years has pushed Taiwan out of major international bodies including the WHO and ICAO — the UN’s aviation agency.

China’s Communist Party regards Taiwan as a breakaway province and has vowed to one day seize the island — by force if necessary.

Beijing’s efforts to isolate the island have ramped up since the election of President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016 because does not view the island as part of a “one China”.

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Critics of Tedros have accused the WHO under his leadership of being too close to Beijing and complimentary of China’s response to the coronavirus.

In a tweet threatening to cut funding, Trump called the organisation “very China centric”.

Tedros has denied being partisan or holding any geopolitical bias.

“Please quarantine COVID politics. That’s what we want. We don’t care about personal attacks,” he said.

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Scientists fight online coronavirus misinformation war

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With cat photos and sometimes scathing irony, Mathieu Rebeaud, a Swiss-based researcher in biochemistry, has nearly tripled his Twitter following since the coronavirus pandemic began.

With 14,000 followers, he posts almost daily, giving explanations on the latest scientific research and, in particular, aims to fight misinformation that spreads as fast as the virus itself.

He is among a growing number of doctors, academics and institutions who in recent weeks have adapted and amplified their scientific messaging in hopes of countering what has been termed an infodemic -- a deluge of information, including widespread false claims, which experts say can pose a serious threat to public health.

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Ted Cruz doesn’t want people shamed with body bags for going to beach: ‘Please stop the hate’

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In early May, Florida attorney Daniel Uhlfelder made news by dressing up as the Grim Reaper in an attempt to scare people from crowding beaches during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Days later, he escalated by laying out body bags on the steps of the Florida capitol building in Tallahassee.

He escalated further on Saturday by announcing he would be handing out body bags to Florida beachgoers and started a fundraiser with the funds going to two progressive Political Action Committees.

https://twitter.com/DWUhlfelderLaw/status/1264412394794647552

The effort caught the eye of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

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Poultry workers denied service over COVID-19 fears as businesses reopen: report

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On Monday, the Huffington Post explored how poultry workers in North Carolina are being denied service even as businesses reopen from COVID-19 lockdowns.

"The hair salon SmartCuts reopened its doors in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, on Memorial Day weekend after a long closure due to the coronavirus. But not every customer was welcome to hop in a chair like old times," reported Dave Jamieson. "A sign posted on the shop window explained: 'Due to the number of Tyson employees who have tested positive for Covid19, and given the close contact experienced during our services, we are unable to serve Tyson employees. We sincerely apologize for this decision, and we ask for your understanding.'"

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