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Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization health emergencies programme World Health Organization

When asked about President Trump’s continued use of the term “Chinese virus” when referring to the novel coronavirus, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization health emergencies programme, said WHO has been clear since the beginning of the outbreak, “Viruses know no borders and they don’t care your ethnicity or the color of your skin or how much money you have in the bank.”

Trump’s latest use of the phrase happened Wednesday during a White House press briefing on the coronavirus.

“It’s really important that we be careful in the language we use,” Ryan said. “There are many different origins … the pandemic of influenza in 2009 originated in North America and we don’t call it the ‘North American flu,’ so it’s very important that we have the same approach when it comes to other viruses.” 

“This is a time for solidarity, this is a time for facts, this is a time to move forward together,” Ryan said, adding, “there is no blame in this.” 

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, World Health Organization infectious disease epidemiologist, said we’ve seen overwhelming international solidarity during this pandemic.

“We see this through donations – whether it’s through [personal protective equipment] or I’ve seen children drawing pictures for health care workers – every single one of those acts of kindness is an act of international unity and we’d like to see more of that,” Van Kerkhove said.

“These are very tough times. And in many countries this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. But this will be temporary, we will get through this and we will get though it together,” Van Kerkhove added.

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