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EU: Rethink Cutting WHO Funding        05/30 09:16

   The European Union on Saturday urged U.S. President Donald Trump to rethink 
his decision to cut American funding for the World Health Organization amid 
global criticism of the move, as spiking infection rates in India and elsewhere 
served as a reminder the global pandemic is far from contained.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The European Union on Saturday urged U.S. President 
Donald Trump to rethink his decision to cut American funding for the World 
Health Organization amid global criticism of the move, as spiking infection 
rates in India and elsewhere served as a reminder the global pandemic is far 
from contained.

   Trump on Friday charged that the WHO didn't respond adequately to the 
pandemic, accusing the U.N. agency of being under China's "total control."

   European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday urged Trump 
to reconsider, saying that "actions that weaken international results must be 
avoided" and that "now is the time for enhanced cooperation and common 
solutions."

   "The WHO needs to continue being able to lead the international response to 
pandemics, current and future," she said. "For this, the participation and 
support of all is required and very much needed."

   The U.S. is the largest source of financial support for the WHO, and its 
exit is expected to significantly weaken the organization. Trump said the U.S. 
would be "redirecting" the money to "other worldwide and deserving urgent 
global public health needs," without providing specifics.

   The WHO wouldn't comment on the announcement but South African Health 
Minister Zweli Mkhize called it an "unfortunate" turn of events.

   "Certainly, when faced with a serious pandemic, you want all nations in the 
world to be particularly focused ... on one common enemy," he told reporters.

   In China, where the virus outbreak began, only four new confirmed cases were 
reported Saturday, all brought from outside the country, and no new deaths. 
Just 63 people remained in treatment.

   After judging the situation there now safe, a chartered flight carrying 200 
German managers back to their jobs landed in Tianijin, a port city just east of 
Beijing. A flight carrying another 200 was due in Shanghai on Thursday.

   "I'm really happy that business is starting again," said Karin Wasowski, a 
Volkswagen employee, before boarding the flight in Frankfurt. "I've been 
working from a home office but that is, of course, something completely 
different to being there."

   More than 5,200 German companies operate in China, employing more than 1 
million people.

   "This is an important step to reconnect China's and Germany's economies," 
said Jens Hildebrandt, executive director of the German Chamber of Commerce in 
North China, which helped organize the flights. "It is our common interest to 
contribute in helping the economy return to normalcy and pre-virus levels."

   Close to 6 million coronavirus infections have been reported worldwide, with 
more than 365,000 deaths and almost 2.5 million recoveries, according to a 
tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. The true dimensions are widely believed 
to be significantly greater, with experts saying many victims died without ever 
being tested.

   As some countries have effectively lowered the rate of infections, they have 
been moving ahead with relaxing restrictions but are keeping a very close eye 
on developments.

   In South Korea, credited with one of the most successful programs to fight 
the pandemic, there were 39 new cases reported Saturday, most of them in the 
densely populated Seoul metropolitan area where officials have linked the 
infections to warehouse workers. Authorities have so far maintained the phased 
reopening of schools in the hope that the recent transmissions could be 
contained quickly.

   India registered another record single day jump of 7,964 cases and 265 
deaths, a day before it was to end its 2-month-old lockdown.

   That put the country's total cases at 173,763 with 4,971 deaths and 82,369 
recoveries, according to the Health Ministry.

   Still, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said in an open letter that India was 
on the path to "victory" in its battle against the virus and would "an example 
in economic revival," while asking his countrymen to show "firm resolve."

   Russia recorded nearly 9,000 new cases overnight, around the daily level it 
has been at over the past two weeks as the virus continues to spread.

   The national coronavirus task force said Saturday that 4,555 Russians have 
died of COVID-19, and 396,575 infections have been recorded. The relatively low 
mortality rate compared with other countries has prompted skepticism 
domestically and abroad.

   U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced two peacekeepers serving 
in Mali had died from the virus. There have been 137 confirmed cases of 
COVID-19 among peacekeepers, the majority in Mali, but these were the first 
deaths.

   The U.S. has been worst hit by the outbreak, with more than 1.7 million 
cases and almost 103,000 deaths.

   Cities and states are under increasing pressure to reopen, however, 
especially for service industries that had seen customer numbers evaporate. The 
latest job-loss figures from the U.S. Labor Department brought to 41 million 
the running total of Americans who have filed for unemployment since shutdowns 
took hold in mid-March.

   But there have been worrying signs that as restrictions are eased, people 
have not been adhering to social distancing guidelines meant to help prevent 
the spread of the virus.

   On Friday, health officials in Missouri said that they were seeking to 
"inform mass numbers of unknown people" after a person who attended crowded 
pool parties over Memorial Day weekend at the state's popular Lake of the 
Ozarks tested positive for COVID-19.

   German Chancellor Angela Merkel's office said Saturday that as things stand 
with the American pandemic situation, if Trump decides to go ahead with the 
Group of Seven summit in the U.S. as he has suggested he might, she would not 
attend in person.

 
 
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