LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization says the agency needs $1.7 billion to fund its response efforts for COVID-19 for the rest of the year — and that it’s about $1.3 billion short.
Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump announced he was suspending funding to the U.N. health agency, saying WHO botched its response to the coronavirus pandemic and was acting as a public relations agency for China. WHO said previously it was conducting an assessment of what the loss of U.S. funding would mean for its operations.
In a press briefing on Friday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said WHO’s COVID-19 strategic plan is focused on several objectives, including providing technical and logistical support to all countries, particularly those with fragile health systems. He said the estimated $1.7 billion “only covers WHO’s needs, not the entire global (community’s) needs.”
Tedros noted that Friday marked 40 years since the day smallpox was officially eradicated from the planet. “That same solidarity built on national unity is needed now more than ever to defeat COVID-19,” he said.
OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine — Parts of New England are slowly emerging from weeks of pandemic-induced restrictions.
Greenhouses, golf courses and barber shops are rolling out the welcome mat for customers eager to return to some sense of normalcy. But the partial reopening comes amid concerns about adequate testing, contact tracing and even protective gear for health care workers.
Maine is allowing the use of golf courses and most state parks; visits to dentists, barbers and hairdressers; and stay-in-vehicle religious services. New Hampshire is allowing the restricted reopening of restaurants, hair salons and other businesses throughout May. Vermont is gradually allowing more commercial activity and outdoor recreation for groups of 10 or fewer, including golf courses and tennis courts.
Rhode Island is taking its first step with a soft reopening Saturday, the day after a stay-at-home order expires. Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo envisions a plan in which more stores will be allowed to reopen but restaurants, bars and salons will remain closed.
WASHINGTON — U.S. health regulators approved the first saliva-based coronavirus test that allows people to collect their own sample at home.
The new at-home option is expected to expand use of the test developed by Rutgers University, which the Food and Drug Administration first authorized last month. People can use the plastic tube at home to provide a saliva sample and ship it to a laboratory for processing.
The test will be available through a New Jersey network of hospitals and testing sites affiliated with Rutgers. Initially, the government limited the test to health care facilities and testing sites with professional supervision.
Wide-scale testing is considered essential to containing the spread of COVID-19 and safely reopening businesses and schools. But many states are still struggling to reach the testing levels recommended by health experts.
MINSK, Belarus — Hundreds of Belarusians, including World War II veterans, attended a church ceremony in Minsk that marked the 75th anniversary of the allied victory over Nazi Germany.
None wore masks, despite the growing coronavirus outbreak in the country.
President Alexander Lukashenko repeatedly dismissed concerns around the pandemic as “mass psychosis” and rejected the idea of a lockdown.
“We chose our own path, and I’m convinced today that we did the right thing,” Lukashenko told veterans. He assured veterans who want to attend the Victory Day parade on Saturday, which Minsk is going ahead with despite the outbreak, that “nothing will happen” to them.
Belarus remains one of the few countries that hadn’t imposed a lockdown or restricted public events despite recommendations of the World Health Organization.