Trump says U.S. will end support for WHO, as death toll nears 103,000

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As the U.S. death toll neared 103,000, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would end its support for the World Health Organization charging it didn't respond adequately to the coronavirus pandemic because of China's "total control" over the U.N. agency.

Trump said Chinese officials "ignored" their reporting obligations to the WHO and pressured the agency to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered.

It was not clear how Trump planned to withhold the funds, much of which are directed by congressional appropriation. The president typically does not have the authority to unilaterally redirect congressional funding.

The WHO declined to comment on the announcement.

Almost 1.75 million cases have been recorded in the U.S., according to an NBC News tally. Globally, more than 365,000 people have died, according to the latest data from John Hopkins' University.

Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

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India’s coronavirus caseload surges again

India on Saturday registered another record single-day jump of 7,964 virus cases and 265 deaths, a day before the two-month lockdown is set to end. The Health Ministry put the total number of confirmed cases at 173,763 with 4,971 deaths.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an open letter marking the first year of his government’s second term, said India was on the path to victory in its battle against the virus. He said India will set “an example in economic revival” and asked the nation to show a “firm resolve.”

Migrant workers queue outside a railway station to return to their hometowns after the government eased a nationwide lockdown in Mumbai, India earlier this month.Punit Paranjpe / AFP - Getty Images

Modi also acknowledged the “tremendous suffering” of millions of migrant workers who had lost their jobs during the lockdown and have been forced to make grueling and dangerous trips back to their hometowns.

The federal government is expected to issue a new set of guidelines this weekend, possibly extending the lockdown in worst-hit areas.

European Union urges U.S. to reconsider decision to break ties with the WHO

The European Union on Saturday called on the U.S. to reconsider the decision to sever ties with the World Health Organization over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The WHO needs to continue being able to lead the international response to pandemics, current and future," European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and E.U. foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said in a joint statement.

"For this, the participation and support of all is required and very much needed... We urge the U.S. to reconsider its announced decision."

President Donald Trump on Friday said that the United States would be “terminating” its relationship with the WHO, as “they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms.”

South Korean cases linked to company that failed to apply proper virus measures

South Korea reported 39 new cases on Saturday — most of them recorded in the densely populated Seoul area where officials have linked scores of infections to warehouse workers. 

Health officials said Friday that at least 102 infections had been linked to workers at a massive warehouse operated by Coupang — a local e-commerce giant that has seen orders spike during the epidemic. 

High school students wearing face masks prepare for classes, with plastic covers placed on desks to prevent infection, as schools reopen in Daejeon, South Korea last week.Yonhap / Reuters

The company has been criticized for failing to implement proper preventive measures and enforce distance between employees, as the virus was discovered on safety helmets, laptops, keyboards and other equipment they share. The resurgence in infections has alarmed officials as millions of students have been returning to school nationwide.

Figures from South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought national totals to 11,441 confirmed cases and 269 deaths. 

Mosques in Iran to resume daily prayers

Government employees went back to work in Iran on Saturday as President Hassan Rouhani said mosques are to resume daily prayers throughout the country, even though some areas are seeing high levels of virus infections.

Rouhani also said on state television that the hours of shopping malls — which had been allowed to open only until 6 p.m. — will be extended, a further step in the government’s plans to ease virus restrictions.

“Doors to mosques across the country will open to public for daily prayers,” Rouhani said, adding that social distancing and other health protocols should be observed. However, he did not say exactly when they are due to reopen.

 Iran has so far reported 146,668 virus infections, and 7,677 deaths.

Chinese doctor’s wife rejects U.S. proposal to rename street after him

The wife of Chinese doctor Li Wenliang who was punished by police for blowing the whistle on coronavirus before he died from the respiratory illness, has rejected a proposal to rename the street of Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. in his honor. 

The proposed bill to name the street  "Li Wenliang Plaza" in his honor was rebuffed by Fu Xuejie, who wrote on social media that she learned the news online. 

“It is very sad to hear this news. Wenliang is a communist and deeply loves his motherland,” she said. “We really don’t want anyone to use Wenliang for hype."

Republican Senator Tom Cotton introduced the bill earlier this month because “the Chinese Communist Party wants the world to forget Dr. Li Wenliang... We can ensure his name is never forgotten," he said. 

British scientific advisers warn it's too soon to lift lockdown

Scientific advisers to the British government have warned that COVID-19 is still spreading too fast in the country to lift the lockdown which is set to ease next week. 

From Monday, groups of up to six people allowed to meet outside and primary schools reopening to certain students.

The government has said it hopes its recently launched "test and trace" system — where contacts of known cases are asked to self-isolate — will contain the virus and help the country start to reopen. 

Britain has reported over 270,000 virus cases as of Saturday and more than 38,000 deaths — the highest death toll in Europe — and Jeremy Farrar, a member of  Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said he agreed with his colleague John Edmunds that "COVID-19 is spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England."

"TTI (test, trace, isolate) has to be in place, fully working, capable of dealing any surge immediately, locally responsive, rapid results & infection rates have to be lower. And trusted," he wrote on Twitter on Friday. 

Chinese CDC rules out Wuhan market as virus origin

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that following an investigation of the animals at the Wuhan Seafood Market — where the first cases of COVID-19 were initially reported — it has ruled the site out as the origin of the outbreak.

"It now turns out that the market is one of the victims," the CDC's director, Gao Fu, said at a news briefing on May 25th, adding that he had personally collected some samples in Wuhan in early January.

Samples collected from animals at the market came back negative, suggesting that they couldn't have infected shoppers. Gao repeatedly emphasized that the source tracing process is very complicated, noting the complex nature of detecting the host of the 2003 SARS virus.

Regarding the World Health Organization virus-tracing investigation, Gao said that China is willing to cooperate with all countries globally under the WHO framework.

Italy to allow domestic travel from June 3

Italy will allow inter-regional travel starting on June 3, the government announced on Friday evening, as the country’s health ministry reported no critical virus infection spikes in any region of the country.

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the data released by the Higher Health Institute are "encouraging" and that "the major sacrifices of the lockdown have produced these results.” 

The report, however, still recommended caution especially as travel increases. A new wave of coronavirus infections in Italy is possible this autumn, health officials said. 

Also Friday, Lombardy’s regional governor was interrogated by prosecutors who are investigating the failure of authorities to implement a lockdown after the first positive case was registered in the area on Feb. 23, according to the Associated Press. It took two weeks for the government to lockdown all of the Lombardy region — the epicenter of Italy's outbreak — allowing the virus to spread exponentially and kill thousands.

Taiwan approves Gilead's remdesivir to treat COVID-19

Taiwan's government said Saturday that it had approved Gilead Sciences' potential COVID-19 treatment, remdesivir, to treat the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Governments are racing to bolster supplies of remdesivir — which U.S. regulators this month approved for emergency use. California-based Gilead has said it will donate 1.5 million doses of remdesivir — enough to treat at least 140,000 patients — to combat the global pandemic.

Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Centre said the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration took into account "the fact that the efficacy and safety of remdesivir has been supported by preliminary evidence" and its use is being approved by other countries.

On that basis, the center said the conditions had been met for approval of the drug for use in patients with "severe" COVID-19 infection. Taiwan has been successful at preventing the virus from spreading, due to early detection and prevention work and a first rate public health system. It has recorded 442 cases and only 7 deaths. The vast majority of people have recovered, with just 14 active cases.

Supreme Court rejects challenge to limits on church services

WASHINGTON — A divided Supreme Court on Friday rejected an emergency appeal by a California church that challenged state limits on attendance at worship services that have been imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Over the dissent of the four more conservative justices, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals in turning away a request from the South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, California, in the San Diego area.

The church argued that limits on how many people can attend their services violate constitutional guarantees of religious freedom and had been seeking an order in time for services on Sunday. The church said it has crowds of 200 to 300 people for its services.

Roberts wrote in brief opinion that the restriction allowing churches to reopen at 25 percent of their capacity, with no more than 100 worshipers at a time, “appear consistent” with the First Amendment. 

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in dissent that the restriction “discriminates against places of worship and in favor of comparable secular businesses. Such discrimination violates the First Amendment.”