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WHO funding: Donald Trump halts WHO funding, with the world on the brink of virus blockages | World News


WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Tuesday cut funding for the World Health Organization, accusing the UN body of mishandling the coronavirus crisis as governments grapple with how and when to return to work their struggling economies.

The deadly pandemic has already killed more than 125,000 people and infected nearly two million worldwide since it first emerged in China late last year.

The novel coronavirus has also changed the lives of billions of people as nations imposed blockade measures to curb its spread, which certainly reduced the death toll, but also caused the world economy to fall.

As the death and new infection count appears to level off, world leaders and citizens are fiercely debating when to lift orders to stay home.

Trump said he could see “rays of light” on the horizon of the world’s largest economy, but launched a virulent attack on the WHO for “severely mistreating and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”

“We have deep concerns about whether the generosity of the United States has been used in the best possible way,” Trump told reporters at the White House when he announced the end of the WHO funds.

He accused the Geneva-based agency of spreading “false information on transmission and mortality,” and charged that its reliance on Chinese data “has likely caused a 20-fold increase in cases worldwide.”

The United States contributed $ 400 million to WHO last year.

Trump had made no secret of his contempt for what he calls a “China-centered” institution, but his caustic spikes are sure to cause discomfort, especially when the crisis is far from over.

Some stores in Austria and Italy reopened on Tuesday, a day after Spain allowed construction and factory workers to return to their jobs.

But France extended its national blockade for another month, and India extended confinement orders for its 1.3 billion people until at least May 3.

And dire economic forecasts came throughout the day.

The International Monetary Fund predicted that the “Great Blockade” would cause the world’s worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The Washington-based IMF said the world economy is expected to shrink by three percent this year, and the United States economy is to contract by 5.9 percent.

“Much worse and perhaps even probable growth outcomes are possible,” he said.

IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said in 2020 and 2021 that global GDP could fall three percent or about $ 9 trillion, “more than the economies of Japan and Germany combined.”

But if the virus is contained and economies can start operating again, 2021 should see a 5.8 percent rebound, the Fund added.

Individual governments also released heartbreaking prospects: France said its economy would shrink by eight percent worse than expected in 2020, and Britain predicted a 13 percent drop in GDP.

More about Covid-19

In good news, the United States Treasury announced an agreement with the country’s major airlines to keep workers paid and avoid bankruptcies in an industry that employs 750,000 people. Details were not immediately released.

Around the world, some countries showed signs of taking the long road back to normal.

Vienna’s popular Favoriten shopping district attracted shoppers wearing masks after the government allowed some small stores, as well as hardware and garden stores to reopen in Austria, which has gotten rid of the worst of the virus.

“I just hope for God it’s not too early” to ease the blockade, Anita Kakac, a 75-year-old pensioner, told AFP.

In Italy, children’s clothing stores and bookstores opened their doors on Tuesday, but some fearful homeowners kept their stores closed.

The death toll in Italy is now above 20,000, the second worst after the US. USA, although much higher per capita, but deaths and infections have decreased.

Denmark planned to open some of its schools on Wednesday after a month-long closure, and the Czech government said it would begin to reduce the closure measures on April 20.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that control measures “should be slowly lifted,” noting that the coronavirus was 10 times more deadly than the 2009-10 swine flu outbreak.

In the United States, the death toll in New York State, which was hit hard, skyrocketed when authorities added thousands of suspicious deaths in New York City to the total.

But new hospital admissions and infections in the state declined, and Governor Andrew Cuomo offered a ray of hope.

“We are changing the curve, every day. We have shown that we control the virus, the virus does not control us,” Cuomo said.

Trump sparked controversy Monday by implying that he could compel state governors and city mayors to send people to work under him.

On Tuesday, he insisted that the federal government and state leaders were working together to find a viable solution, and that he and the governors were “getting along.”

But the Republican president, who is running for reelection in November, also warned: “The governors are responsible. They have to take charge. They have to do a great job.”

Local leaders on both American shores have come together and have said they will make their own decisions and proceed with caution.

“I don’t want to make a political decision that puts people’s lives at risk and puts the economy at even greater risk,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Times of India