Coronavirus latest: Donald Trump halts US payments to World Health Organization

Donald Trump in the Rose Garden on Tuesday
Donald Trump in the Rose Garden on Tuesday Copyright Alex Brandon/AP
By Euronews with AP, AFP
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Here's all the latest on the COVID-19 pandemic from Tuesday.


President Donald Trump says he has issued a directive to halt US payments to the World Health Organization.

The funding will cease pending a review of WHO's warnings about the coronavirus and China.

Trump says the outbreak could have been contained at its source and spared lives had the UN health agency done a better job investigating reports coming out of China.

Trump claims the organisation failed to carry out its “basic duty” and must be held accountable.

Shrinking of UK economy

Earlier on Tuesday the UK's tax and spending watchdog has said the British economy could shrink by a record 35 percent by June. The bleak report comes from the Office for Budget Responsibility.

Commenting on the government's response to the crisis, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said the measures put in place were the "right plan".

View his news conference in the video player above

Official statistics on Tuesday showed that hundreds of deaths in British care homes have not been included in government figures -- which only take account of deaths in hospitals. It has led to criticism that the elderly are being "airbrushed out".

Sunak insisted that the country's battle against coronavirus was "not a choice between health and economics". 

Other key developments:

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its latest forecast that the world economy would suffer its worst year since the Great Depression of the 1930s -- and shrink by three percent in 2020.
  • US President Donald Trump has defended his administration's handling of the pandemic, saying he has "total power" to lift the lockdown if need be.
  • France and India have joined Italy in extending their nationwide lockdowns to stem the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus.
  • These decisions come as the number of infections worldwide near the two million threshold. Nearly 120,000 people have now lost their lives to COVID-19.

Follow all the latest updates


France surpasses 15,000 deaths

 France has surpassed 15,000 deaths from coronavirus and 100,000 confirmed cases on Tuesday, after 541 deaths in hospitals in one day and 5,497 other infections.
Health authorities said that since the beginning of the epidemic 103,573 cases have been recorded and 15,729 people have died, of which 10,129 died in hospitals.
The other 5,600 occurred in nursing homes and care facilities, although the Executive does not yet have a complete census in these institutions and is receiving the figures in a timely manner. 

EU draft roadmap calls for 'solidarity' and 'cooperation' in exit strategies

Euronews has seen a leaked draft of an EU report on exit strategies from the coronavirus pandemic, due to be published on Wednesday.

It calls for solidarity and cooperation between EU nations as they look to ease restrictions gradually, adding it's essential that there is a "common operating framework".

"Exiting from the COVID-19 crisis is a matter of common European interest. All Member States are affected albeit to different degrees. The spread of the virus cannot be contained within borders and actions taken in isolation are bound to be less effective," it says.

The draft document calls for public health considerations to be put first, and reminds us that the road to normality will be "very long". There's a list of measures the EU is supporting, including testing programmes and vaccine research, as well as data reporting and a framework for contact tracing via mobile apps.

Finally, here's a list of examples of inter-nation solidarity the EU praises in the draft report. Follow our coverage tomorrow for more!

"Intensive-care patients from Italy and France have been taken for care to Luxembourg, Germany and Austria, and from the Netherlands to Germany and Belgium. Romania has sent doctors and nurses to Bergamo, facilitated by the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Poland has sent doctors and paramedics to Lombardy. The Czech Republic has supplied Italy and Spain with protective suits while France has donated masks and protective suits to Italy. Germany has delivered ventilators to Italy. 17 Member States have so far organised flights, many of them facilitated and funded through the EU‘s Civil Protection Mechanism, to bring home European citizens of all nationalities that were stranded abroad. This is the right approach and it should be continued.


Czech Republic unveils plan to ease lockdown restrictions

The Czech government has unveiled a plan to gradually relax restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic. Measures will be adopted in five waves in the coming weeks.

The plan will only go ahead if the outbreak is kept under control. Rules on social distancing and the mandatory wearing of face masks remain in place.

A total of 6,101 people have tested positive in the Czech Republic and 161 have died, official figures show. The daily increase in new cases stayed under 100 on Monday for the second straight day, although the Easter holidays saw a lower number of tests.


Selected shops open for trade in Italy

Some shops have been allowed to reopen in Italy under certain conditions amid a slight easing of the lockdown.

In some regions, bookstores, stationers and shops selling other supplies have been able to open their doors -- although Lombardy and Piemonte in the hard-hit north have opted to keep stores closed.

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini argued that books were an "essential good" for Italians cooped up at home.

Forestry workers have also returned to clear dead trees ahead of the warmer season which brings the danger of forest fires.

And the latest figures from Italy...

The number of new positives for the coronavirus in Italy is at the lowest level in a month, AP reports.

Italy’s civil protection agency reported 2,972 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the lowest number since March 13, when 2,547 cases were reported. Italy has registered a total 162,488 positives since the virus broke out on Feb. 21.

Deaths rose 2.9%, by 602 to 21,067. While the number of new cases and deaths continue to grow, pressure is easing on hospitals, with 74 fewer patients being treated and 12 fewer in intensive care.


Could a century-old method help treat COVID-19 patients?

Clinical trials of plasma therapy are taking place, amid hopes that it could be a "stop-gap solution" until coronavirus vaccines and anti-virals are ready.

Could a century-old method help treat COVID-19 patients?

The treatment involves taking plasma from the blood of survivors and injecting it into sick patients.


Working from home under lockdown? Here's how to stay healthy...

Euronews gets some advice from chiropractors on how to maintain physical and mental health. Read on:

How to stay healthy working from home, according to chiropractors

Adjusting to working from home when you are accustomed to the office can be tricky for some - but chiropractors have some advice for keeping the body and mind healthy during lockdown.


IMF in 'Great Depression' warning...

More on the International Monetary Fund's warning that the global economy in 2020 will suffer its worst year since the 1930s. Here's our full story:

COVID-19: World economy in 2020 to suffer 'worst year since 1930s'

The International Monetary Fund has given a bleak assessment in its World Economic Outlook briefing on COVID-19.


Hundreds of COVID-19 deaths in UK care homes

The bleak economic outlook comes as the UK still battles to contain a rising number of coronavirus deaths and infections.

Official statistics showed Tuesday that hundreds more people with COVID-19 have died than are recorded in the U.K. government’s daily tally.

The Office for National Statistics said 5,979 deaths that occurred in England up to April 3 involved COVID-19, 15% more than the 5,186 deaths announced by the country's health service for the same period.

The official tally of deaths - 12,107 as of Tuesday - only includes those who died in hospital.

The higher figure, published weekly by the statistics office, includes deaths in all settings including nursing homes, and cases where coronavirus was suspected but not tested for.


UK finance minister responds to grim economic forecast

(AP) Britain's finance minister Rishi Sunak reacted to the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast that the UK economy could shrink by 35% in the April-June period.

Sunak said the report made clear the actions taken by the government "will help to mitigate" the impact to the economy.

The finance minister said "we must defeat this virus" and said it is "not a choice between health and economics".

The UK has been under mandatory restrictions since 27 March which has forced many businesses to close.

There are 89,571 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the UK and 11,347 reported deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally at 1400 GMT.


Countries under lockdown should impose alcohol restrictions: WHO

Consuming alcohol doesn't kill the COVID-19 virus, the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday in an effort to dispel fake news. 
"Fear and misinformation have generated a dangerous myth that consuming high-strength alcohol can kill the COVID-19 virus. It does not," it said.
The UN organisation instead called on governments to enforce measures which limit consumption of alcohol, particularly in countries under confinement.

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