Donald Trump announced Tuesday the suspension of the American contribution to the WHO, in the midst of a global pandemic, which continues to kill thousands of people every day at a time when only tentative attempts to decontain the population are being made in Europe.
The United States, the world’s largest donor to the World Health Organization (WHO), with more than $ 400 million a year, will cut its funding long enough to assess its role “in the mismanagement and concealment of the spread of the coronavirus, “said the President.
He criticized the UN agency for aligning itself with China’s positions, which Washington accuses of having initially concealed the gravity of the virus when it first appeared there in December. Which, he said, prevented the epidemic from being contained “at its source with very few deaths”.
Now is not the time to cut funding for WHO, which is “absolutely essential to the world’s efforts to win the war against Covid-19,” said UN chief Antonio Guterres.
WHO boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last week asked President Trump not to “politicize” the virus by carrying out his threat to cut off US funding.
It is now done.
The republican billionaire, who does not hide his contempt for multilateral organizations, did not hesitate to take action when his country is the most bereaved by the coronavirus, with more than 25,700 deaths in total and more than 600,000 cases registered contamination.
The United States still recorded a dark record on Tuesday with more than 2,200 additional deaths from the new coronavirus in 24 hours, the heaviest daily toll recorded by a country.
– Great recession –
Four months after the virus appeared, the pandemic has killed nearly 125,000 people worldwide.
And despite a slight slowdown in Europe in particular, it continues to kill several thousand people a day, and to spread to countries so far little affected.
WHO plays a key role in guiding governments in search of the fragile balance between continuing the fight against the disease and relaunching an activity that has come to a complete stop.
She warned that the coronavirus would remain a threat “until the development and distribution of a safe and effective vaccine”, which may take more than a year.
“The risk of re-introduction and resurgence of Covid-19 will continue”, especially in the event of uncontrolled release, warned Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Yet deconfinement is eagerly awaited by more than half of humanity, cloistered at home at the request of the authorities, with an exacerbation of social inequalities.
In a poor suburb of Cape Town, South African police dispersed rubber residents into confined areas, furious at not receiving food.
But the end of the restrictions is also necessary to limit the economic damage.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned on Tuesday that this “unlike any other” crisis would cause a global recession of at least 3% this year, or much more if the containment measures are not lifted by here end of June.
“It is very likely that this year the world economy will experience its worst recession since the Great Depression” in the 1930s, said IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath.
– Prudent reopenings –
If the recovery of the activity is still far for many countries, in Europe, some have started to initiate or sketch a timid deconfinement in favor of a slight improvement in health.
Austria allowed Tuesday the careful reopening of its small shops and public gardens. The day before, Spain, one of the countries most in mourning for the new coronavirus, with 18,000 dead, had authorized certain workers to return to the factories and construction sites, on condition of wearing masks distributed on a large scale.
In Vienna, near Westbahnhof train station, Anita Kakac, a 75-year-old retiree, has put on her mask and says she is “not afraid to go out”. “I am delighted to be able to buy flowers again. When we see these colors, it is good for the soul,” she said.
In Austria, mortality has so far remained lower than that of front-line countries such as the United States, Italy, Spain, France or the United Kingdom.
Germany, also relatively spared, is to announce on Wednesday a reduction in coercive measures, which vary from region to region.
France was the first of the major countries most affected (with more than 15,700 deaths) to give a date for the start of deconfinement: May 11. On this day, schools will start to reopen gradually, but not bars, restaurants or cinemas, Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday.
But if “the epidemic begins to mark time”, as estimated by the French president, the improvement is still fragile: France recorded Tuesday a large number of deaths from Covid-19 (762), even if the The number of intensive care patients, a crucial indicator, has continued to decrease.
The recovery will therefore be very gradual. Most of the major cultural events of the summer in the country have been canceled, the start of the Tour de France cycling has been postponed to August 29 and the Cannes Festival organizers are planning “new forms” for the 2020 edition.
“A party” –
Also stopped for more than a month, Italy (21,000 dead) has authorized localized and very limited reopening of certain businesses.
In her bookshop in Syracuse, Sicily, Marilla Di Giovanni is delighted to see customers coming back: “It’s a party. People come in one by one, I ask them to keep the safety distance, but that’s the dimension human who returns “.
The debate on the end of containment and the revival of activity has also intensified in the United States, against a backdrop of political controversy.
Donald Trump, after showing his determination to dictate the tempo, was Tuesday more conciliatory with the governors of the most exposed states, New York in mind, who fear a hasty and uncoordinated deconfinement.
In New York State, precisely, the balance sheet has started to rise again with 778 new deaths in the last 24 hours, for a total of more than 10,800 deaths, even if the slowdown of the pandemic seems to be confirmed.