US President Donald Trump said last night he has instructed his administration to at least temporarily halt funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO) over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Trump said the WHO had “failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable.” He said the group had promoted China’s “disinformation” about the virus that likely led to a wider outbreak of the virus than otherwise would have occurred. But the president says the US will continue to engage with the organization in pursuit of what he calls meaningful reforms.
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump’s May 1 target for restarting the US economy is “overly optimistic”, his top infectious disease adviser said yesterday, after Mr. Trump and state governors clashed over who has the power to lift restrictions aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic.
Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, echoed many governors in saying that health officials must first be able to test for the virus quickly, isolate new cases and track down new infections before social-distancing restrictions can be eased safely.
That date may be “a bit overly optimistic”, Mr. Fauci said. “We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet.”
WATCH PRESIDENT TRUMP SPEAK AS USA HALTS PAYMENT TO “WHO”
The US death toll from COVID-19 topped 25,700 yesterday, according to a running Reuters tally.