US President Donald Trump has ordered a freeze on World Health Organization funds for “mismanaging” the coronavirus epidemic, as world leaders considered lockdowns that threaten to plunge the global economy into a second Great Depression.
The death toll from the pandemic has risen to 125,000, with nearly two million people infected with the epidemic that has upended civilization and transformed life for billions confined to their homes across the globe.
Leaders around the world are agonizing over lifting lockdown steps to jump-start ravaged economies while also preventing a second wave of infections.
And with the world trying to get on top of the pandemic, Trump has suspended last year’s payments amounting to $400 million for the WHO.
Funding will be frozen after a review of the position of the WHO in “seriously mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus,” Trump said, accusing the Geneva-based body of “political correctness above life-saving measures.”
The epidemic could have been contained “with very little death” if the US president charged the WHO had correctly evaluated the situation in China where the disease broke out late last year.
According to Johns Hopkins University, Trump’s attack came as the US counted a fresh total of 2,228 casualties over the past 24 hours.
The International Monetary Fund announced the extent of the economic crisis, predicting that the “Great Lockdown” could wipe out $9 trillion of the world economy in the worst decline since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
According to an AFP poll by economists on Wednesday, the virus-hit Chinese economy, second only to the US in scale, was likely contracting for the first time in about three decades in the first quarter.