WASHINGTON - (UPDATE) President Donald Trump announced Tuesday a suspension of US funding to the World Health Organization because he said it had covered up the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak in China before it spread around the world.
Trump told a press conference he was instructing his administration to halt funding while "a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization's role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus."
According to Trump, the WHO prevented transparency over the outbreak and the United States -- the UN body's biggest funder which provided $400 million last year -- will now "discuss what we do with all that money that goes to the WHO."
"With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America's generosity has been put to the best use possible."
Trump's attack on the WHO reflects his belief that the organization is biased toward China and colluded to prevent the United States' main economic rival from having to be open about the unfolding health disaster.
He says this cost other countries crucial time to prepare and delayed decisions to stop international travel.
"The WHO's attack on travel restrictions put political correctness above life-saving measures," he said.
"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 at its source with very little death," he said.
"This would have saved thousands of lives and avoided worldwide economic damage. Instead, the WHO willingly took China's assurances to face value... and defended the actions of the Chinese government," he said.
Critics have pointed out that for weeks after the coronavirus epidemic began unfolding, Trump frequently praised Beijing's response and downplayed the danger it posed at home.
© Agence France-Presse