Emmanuel Macron condemns Donald Trump as coronavirus row over WHO funding erupts

“It’s a decision that we regret,” M Macron’s spokesman Mme Ndiaye told reporters following a cabinet meeting that decided on a billion-euro rescue package to support France’s coronavirus-battered economy. Paris “hopes for a return to normal” so that the WHO can continue its work, she added. Mr Trump made good on a threat to cut WHO funding over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, drawing a chorus of international criticism and concern.

The US leader told a press conference that the WHO had “failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable”.

The group promoted China’s “disinformation” about the flu-like disease that likely led to the virus’ dizzying global spread, he continued.

He also said that the “China-centric” WHO had “parroted and publicly endorsed” Beijing’s claim that human-to-human transmission was not happening.

“Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained … with very little death,” he noted.

“We have deep concerns over whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible,” he said, adding that Washington would now “discuss what we do with all that money that goes to the WHO”.

His administration’s review of the WHO’s role “in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus” is likely to take 60-90 days, he said.

The United States is currently the WHO’s biggest overall donor, contributing more than $400million (£320.3million) in 2019, around 15 percent of its budget.

Reacting to Mr Trump’s controversial move on Tuesday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said it was “not the time” to slash resources for the health agency.

“Now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences,” he said.

The WHO says it needs more than $1billion (£808million) to fund operations against the deadly pandemic.

Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and the US economy has been paralysed as strict lockdown measures have confined citizens to their homes and forced businesses to close. 

On Wednesday, the country’s coronavirus death count climbed by a record number for the second day in a row, rising by at least 2,371 to top 30,800, according to a Reuters tally.

The US recorded its first coronavirus fatality on February 29.

It took 38 days for the death toll to reach the 10,000 mark and just nine more days for it to reach 30,000.

The new coronavirus had infected more than 2 million people across the world, including over 635,000 in the US alone.

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