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US issues drastic threat to WHO over virus outbreak

Donald Trump has threatened to permanently halt funding for the World Health Organisation if it does not commit to improvements within 30 days.

The president of the United States suspended contributions to the WHO last month, accusing it of promoting China's "disinformation" about the coronavirus outbreak.

"If the WHO does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the WHO permanent and reconsider our membership," Trump told its chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a letter posted to Twitter.

In his letter, Trump said the only way forward for the body was if it could demonstrate independence from China, adding that his administration had already started reform discussions with Dr Ghebreyesus.

He accused WHO of being unjustifiably favourable towards China and its operations, alleging it “failed to independently investigate credible reports that conflicted directly with the Chinese Government’s official accounts.”

Trump argued the organisation knew of the severe threat COVID-19 posed to the world long before it made any announcements, which he said had a direct impact on the number of people killed.

“On January 21, 2020, President Xi Jinping of China reportedly pressured you not to declare the coronavirus outbreak an emergency. You gave into this pressure,’’ he wrote.

Trump said that by the time WHO declared the virus a pandemic on March 11, “it had killed more than 4000 people and infected more than 100,000 people in at least 114 countries around the world”.

President Donald Trump. Source: AAP
President Donald Trump has threatened to end US funding to WHO permanently. Source: AAP

WHO officials have denied the accusations and China has claimed the country has been transparent and open about the virus.

Earlier, Trump said WHO had "done a very sad job" in its handling of the virus and he would make a decision soon on US funding.

WHO said on Monday an independent review of the global virus response would begin as soon as possible.

The body revealed it had received backing and a hefty pledge of funds from China, which is popularly known as the origin of the pandemic.

Trumps letter was sent to the World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (pictured). Source: AFP via Getty Images
Trumps letter was sent to the World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (pictured). Source: AFP via Getty Images

The US president has also revealed he's taking hydroxychloroquine daily because he thinks it's "good" and might keep him safe from COVID-19.

"I started taking it because I think it's good. I've heard a lot of good stories," Trump said.

Just last month, the US Food and Drug Administration warned health professionals the drug should not be used to treat COVID-19 outside hospital or research settings due to sometimes fatal side effects.

Regulators issued the alert after receiving reports of heart rhythm problems, including deaths, from poison control centres and other health providers.

Trump dismissed reports of side-effects, saying: "All I can tell you is, so far I seem to be OK."

With Reuters

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