President Donald Trump last night announced that the United States (US) ‘will be today terminating our relationship’ with the World Health Organization (WHO) and directing the funds to other global public health charities.

Trump said the world ‘is now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government’ which had ‘pressured the World Health Organization to mislead the world’ about the virus.

‘Countless lives have been taken and profound economic hardship has been inflicted all around the globe,’ he said.

‘China has total control over the World Health Organization’, he said, despite paying the organisation a fraction of what the US did.

China has accused the US of being responsible for the spread of the virus on its own soil, attributing the outbreak to American ‘politicians who lie’, according to the BBC.

Yesterday, the WHO launched a ‘technology access pool’ to ensure that treatments, vaccines and the technology surrounding them is provided to all who need them, and are not simply bought up by the wealthiest countries.

This came as the organisation warned that people should be prepared for new outbreaks of coronavirus to build up very quickly.

The BBC said the technology access pool initiative was supported by 37 mainly smaller or developing nations. It quoted WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as saying that tools to prevent, detect and treat Covid-19 were ‘global public goods that must be accessible by all people’.

However, the report said, some of the world’s biggest economies, and major pharmaceutical producing countries – including the US, United Kingdom, China and Switzerland – had not yet given their backing to the scheme, apparently fearful of setting a precedent in relinquishing intellectual property rights to vital medicines they had developed.

John Hopkins University reported that there were more than 5.8 million cases globally, with a death toll of more than 361 200.

Positive cases in South Africa rose by 1 837 to 29 240. Thirty four more deaths bring the toll to 611.

Pressure is mounting on the government on its controversial cigarette sales lockdown ban as tobacco giant British American Tobacco resumes legal action, and the spotlight falls on what the Democratic Alliance (DA) called Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s ‘lies’ in justifying the cigarette ban about-turn in April.

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said Dlamini-Zuma should be immediately suspended.

The party said Dlamini-Zuma’s responding affidavit in the court challenge lodged by the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association did not correspond with the statements she made on 29 April when she addressed the nation.

Dlamini-Zuma said on 29 April that the decision to open the sale of cigarettes was rescinded in the light of 2 000 public submissions supporting the ban.

But the DA said her court papers, which included ‘all the public submissions she could find to support her actions’ showed ‘the actual opposition to cigarette sales turns out to be a mere fraction of what she had claimed’.

The court papers indicated that there were only 1 535 submissions and of these, 47.2% had nothing to do with cigarettes or smoking. There were 23.3% that were in favour of smoking and only 29.6% supported the ban.

Steenhuisen said: ‘This amounts to just 454 submissions. Clearly, the minister was lying to South Africans in order to further her own pre-determined agenda.’

That Dlamini-Zuma ‘took the decision to make up a number of alleged supporting submissions and then lie to the people of South Africa in her briefing should be grounds for immediate suspension from her position. If the president wants to salvage some credibility for government’s response to this crisis, he cannot allow her to evade accountability on this.’

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