President Donald Trump suspended funding from the World Health Organization on Tuesday and accused the UN organization of ill-treating the coronavirus crisis as governments grapple with how and when to get their troubled economies back on track.
The deadly pandemic has killed over 125,000 people and infected nearly two million people worldwide since it first hit China late last year.
The novel corona virus has also changed the lives of billions of people as nations take blocking measures to curb its spread – undoubtedly reducing the death toll but also shaking the global economy.
While the number of deaths and new infections appears to be gradually decreasing, world leaders and citizens are debating when to cancel home orders.
Trump said he could see "rays of light" on the horizon for the world's largest economy, but launched a virulent attack on WHO for "severe mismanagement and cover-up of the spread of the corona virus."
He accused the Geneva-based authority of "disseminating false information" and claimed that trust in Chinese data "has likely resulted in a 20-fold increase in cases worldwide".
The United States donated $ 400 million to WHO last year.
Trump had made no secret of his contempt for a "China-centered" institution, but his caustic barbs caused problems – especially when the crisis was far from over.
It is "not the time to reduce resources," said UN chief Antonio Guterres in response to Trump's statements. The organization was "absolutely crucial to the world's efforts to win the war" against the virus.
Some stores in Austria and Italy reopened on Tuesday, the day after Spain allowed construction and factory workers to resume work.
But France extended its nationwide ban by another month, and India extended the arrest warrants for its 1.3 billion people until at least May 3.
And during the day, bad economic forecasts came in.
– & # 39; The Great Lockdown & # 39; –
The International Monetary Fund predicted that the "Great Lockdown" would trigger the worst global downturn since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
The Washington-based IMF said the global economy is expected to shrink three percent this year – and the U.S. economy is expected to shrink 5.9 percent.
"Much worse growth results are possible, and maybe even likely," it said.
IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said in 2020 and 2021 that global GDP could fall by three percent or about $ 9 trillion – "more than the economies of Japan and Germany combined".
However, if the virus is contained and the economies can start operating again, a recovery of 5.8 percent is likely in 2021, the fund added.
Individual governments also gave good prospects – France said its economy would contract worse than expected eight percent in 2020, and Britain predicted a 13 percent decline in GDP.
In some good news, the U.S. Treasury Department announced a contract with the country's major airlines to ensure employee pay and avoid bankruptcies in an industry with 750,000 employees. Details were not released immediately.
– & # 39; Hope it's not too early & # 39; –
Some countries around the world showed signs of a long way back to normal.
Vienna's popular Favoriten shopping district attracted masked buyers after the government allowed some small shops, hardware stores, and garden shops to reopen throughout Austria, which has been spared the worst virus.
"I just hope it's not too early," Anita Kakac, 75, said retired AFP.
In Italy, children's clothing stores and bookstores opened their doors on Tuesday, but some timid owners left their boutiques closed.
Italy's death toll is now over 20,000 – the second worst after the United States, albeit much higher per capita – but deaths and infections have subsided.
Denmark planned to open some of its schools on Wednesday after a month of closure, and the Czech government announced that it would begin easing the blockade on April 20.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that control measures "need to be lifted slowly" and found that the coronavirus was ten times more deadly than the 2009/10 swine flu outbreak.
– & # 39; We change the curve & # 39; –
In the United States, the death toll reached a record 2,228 in 24 hours through Tuesday evening. This is evident from an ongoing balance sheet from Johns Hopkins University.
But new hospital admissions and infections in the severely affected state of New York declined, and Governor Andrew Cuomo offered a glimmer of hope.
"We change the curve every day. We have shown that we control the virus – the virus does not control us," said Cuomo.
Trump sparked controversy Monday, suggesting he could force the city's governors and mayors to send people back to work on his command.
On Tuesday, he insisted that the federal government and heads of state work together to find a workable solution, and that he and the governors "all get along".
But the Republican president, who will stand for re-election in November, also warned: "The governors are responsible. They have to take responsibility. They have to do a great job."
Local leaders on both U.S. coasts have come together and said they would make their own decisions – and exercise caution.
"I don't want to make a political decision that endangers people's lives and further threatens the economy," said California Governor Gavin Newsom.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)