Trump says US ‘halting funding’ to World Health Organisation over coronavirus response

United States President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he has instructed his administration to at least temporarily halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump, at a White House news conference, claimed the WHO had “failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable”.

He accused the group of promoting China’s “disinformation” about the virus that likely led to a wider outbreak of the virus than otherwise would have occurred.

Trump said the US would continue to engage with the WHO in pursuit of what he calls meaningful reforms. He added that the “hold” on funding would continue while the US reviews the organisation’s warnings about the coronavirus and China.

The WHO did not immediately comment on Trump’s announcement on Tuesday.

The US president had previously feuded with the WHO as he sought to blame the organisation for the gravity of the crisis.

Reacting to Trump’s previous threats,  WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week that now is not the time for such rhetoric.

“The focus of all political parties should be to save their people. Please don’t politicise this virus,” Tedros said at a press briefing in Geneva last week.

“If you want to have many more body bags, then you do it. If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicising it … We will have many body bags in front of us if we don’t behave.”

Tedros, a former foreign minister of Ethiopia, also rejected Trump’s suggestion the WHO was “China-centric”, saying: “We are close to every nation, we are colour-blind.”

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