Coronavirus outbreak: China to give WHO $30 million more after US freezes funds

China on Thursday announced it will donate another $30 million to the World Health Organisation to help in the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic, days after Washington said it would freeze funding.

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“China has decided to donate another $30 million in cash to the WHO, in addition to the previous donation of $20 million, to support the global fight against COVID-19 and strengthen developing countries´ health systems,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing.

He added that China’s contribution to the UN agency “reflects the support and trust of the Chinese government and people for the WHO”.

The US, which is the WHO’s biggest contributor, accused the WHO last week of “mismanaging” the COVID-19 crisis, drawing ire from Beijing as both countries spar over the deadly virus.

In announcing the funding freeze last week, US President Donald Trump accused the WHO of covering up the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak in China before it spread.

Trump said US taxpayers provided between $400 million and $500 million per year to the WHO, while “in contrast, China contributes roughly $40 million a year and even less”.

The hold on funding was expected. Trump has been increasingly critical of the organisation as the global health crisis has continued, and he has reacted angrily to criticism of his administration’s response.

The decision drew immediate condemnation. American Medical Association President Dr Patrice Harris called it “a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating COVID-19 easier” and urged Trump to reconsider.

Democratic Representative Nita Lowey, who heads the US House of Representatives Committee that sets government spending, said Trump was making a mistake.

“The coronavirus cannot just be defeated here in the United States, it has to be defeated in every conceivable location throughout the world,” she said in a statement.

The Republican president recently accused the WHO of being too lenient with China in the earliest days of the crisis, despite having himself praised China in January for its response and transparency.

Trump has made frequent use of scapegoats during his short political career. He often lashes out at the media, Democrats, or other when he feels attacked or under pressure.

Trump said the WHO failed to investigate credible reports from sources in China’s Wuhan province that conflicted with Beijing’s accounts about the coronavirus’ spread and “parroted and publicly endorsed” the idea 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 to call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained … with very little death,” Trump said.

Trump said the US review of the WHO was likely to take 60-90 days.

AFP.

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