The European Union has urged US President Donald Trump to rethink his decision to cut American funding for the World Health Organisation (WHO) amid global criticism of the move.
Spiking coronavirus infection rates in some countries served as a reminder the global pandemic is far from contained, as Trump charged that the WHO did not respond adequately to the pandemic.
The American leader also accused the UN’s health agency of being under China’s “total control”.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has 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”.
She added: “The WHO needs to continue being able to lead the international response to pandemics, current and future.
“For this, the participation and support of all is required and very much needed.”
The US is the largest source of financial support for the WHO, and its exit is expected to significantly weaken the organisation.
Trump said the US would be “redirecting” the money to “other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs”, without providing specifics.
The WHO would not comment on the announcement, but South African health minister Zweli Mkhize called it an “unfortunate” turn of events.
He told reporters: “Certainly, when faced with a serious pandemic, you want all nations in the world to be particularly focused … on one common enemy.”
In China, where the virus outbreak began, only four new confirmed cases were reported on Saturday, all brought from outside the country, and no new deaths.
Just 63 people remain in treatment.
After judging the situation there is now safe, a chartered flight carrying 200 German managers back to their jobs has landed in Tianijin, a port city just east of Beijing.
A flight carrying another 200 is due to touch down in Shanghai on Thursday.
Close to six 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.