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Biden halts US departure from WHO

January 21, 2021

President Joe Biden has signed an executive order reversing his predecessor|s decision to leave the World Health Organization in the midst of a global coronavirus pandemic.

A logo is pictured on the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva
Trump had accused the international health body of being under China's control Image: Reuters/D. Balibouse

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order halting his country|s exit from the World Health Organization (WHO).

His predecessor had opted out of the United Nation’s specialized health agency at the peak of the coronavirus crisis last year. 

In a letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Biden said the US intended to remain a member of the international public health body, the White House said late Wednesday.

Last year, Donald Trump had moved to formally withdraw the US from the WHO, accusing the international body of being under China's control in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

As the pandemic rages across the US, the incoming president faces an uphill task of getting the country back on track. He wasted no time during his first day in office, signing multiple orders to stem the spread of the virus.

Biden signed an executive order mandating that people wear face masks in all federal buildings and on federal lands, a step that comes after Trump was routinely seen without a face mask.
The US President also signed orders establishing a new federal office to coordinate the country's response to the virus. He also restored the White House's National Security Council directorate for global health security and defense.

Notably, he wore a mask as he signed the executive orders.

With over 400,000 people having lost their lives to the virus in the US, Biden has asked everyone in the country to wear a mask when in public for at least the first 100 days of his presidency. 

see/rc (Reuters, AP)