World Health Organisation agrees to virus probe after Australia push (Bigstock)
Australia's push for an independent inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic has been vindicated globally with widespread backing of the probe, including from China.
More than 110 countries at the World Health Assembly on Monday night backed a resolution calling for an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation of the international response to the pandemic.
Today is the start of the 73rd World Health Assembly - the first ever to be convened virtually. It is an opportunity for health leaders to commit to fight #COVID19 together, in unity, in solidarity! That’s the only way we can stop this pandemic and keep the world safe. #WHA73— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) May 18, 2020
Health Minister Greg Hunt says the probe needs to protect against the health risks of wildlife wet markets and include all populations or partners.
"We need to learn the lessons from this pandemic and ensure we have the strongest possible global health architecture, with an enhanced ability to prevent and respond to future outbreaks," he told the assembly.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus promised a review would come "at the earliest appropriate moment".
"I will initiate an independent evaluation at the earliest appropriate moment to review experience gained & lessons learned & to make recommendations to improve national & global pandemic preparedness and response"-@DrTedros #WHA73— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) May 18, 2020
US President Donald Trump supported the probe by retweeting an AAP Newswire/SBS story on the motion.
We are with them! https://t.co/H7DRHXPJYb— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2020
Chinese President Xi Jinping also backed a WHO-led review and said his country had acted with "openness and transparency and responsibility" all along.
"This work needs a scientific and professional attitude, and needs to be led by the WHO. And the principles of objectivity and fairness need to be upheld," Xi told the meeting via video.
Xi also said China would stump up $US2 billion ($A3.1 billion) over the next two years to help deal with COVID-19.
#China🇨🇳 will provide US$2 billion over 2 years to support #COVID19 response and economic + social development in affected countries, especially developing countries— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) May 18, 2020
- China President, Xi Jinping at #WHA73pic.twitter.com/qKkZVnASif
But his comments came as China's commerce ministry announced that that all Australian barley imports would be slapped with tariffs totalling 80.5 per cent from Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Australia's COVID-19 death toll stands at 99 after a NSW man in his 60s with underlying health conditions died after contracting the disease from a close personal contact.
Debate is also continuing over when to reopen state borders after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian hit out at her Queensland counterpart Annastacia Palaszczuk, who admitted their joint border may not reopen until September.
Ms Berejiklian said the sooner people could travel to other parts of Australia, the quicker the economy would recover.
West Australian Premier Mark McGowan and South Australian Premier Steven Marshall backed Queensland, saying their borders will remain closed until it's safe to reopen.
However Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham urged the states to lift their borders.
Despite only nine cases being reported nationally on Monday, concerns about the spread of the virus continue.
McDonald's closed 12 outlets across Melbourne after a delivery driver tested positive to the disease.
A Domino's outlet has been shut for cleaning after a worker contracted the virus, while the Victorian abattoir linked to 99 cases is beginning to reopen.
© AAP 2020