On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

clear-night
72°
Partly Cloudy
H -° L 70°
  • clear-night
    72°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H -° L 70°
  • cloudy-day
    Today
    Partly Cloudy. H -° L 70°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    87°
    Tomorrow
    Partly Cloudy T-storms. H 87° L 71°
Listen
Pause
Error

News on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

World

    Vitoria Gabrielle crawled all the time and was starting to walk this year with a little help, hanging on to her 4-year-old brother's arm while exploring her mother's small apartment on a cobblestone street in Rio de Janeiro's working-class Piety neighborhood. The girl with a constant smile celebrated her first birthday in February, slept and ate well and was enthusiastically saying her first words: “mamãe' and “vovó” (mama and grandma), said her mother, Andréa de Sousa. But after recovering from viral meningitis, Vitoria Gabrielle suffered gastrointestinal problems that sent her from her mother's barely furnished hilltop home back to the hospital several times for treatment. It was during an April hospital stay that de Sousa suspects her daughter was infected with the coronavirus that was just starting to circulate in Rio and Brazil. Vitoria Gabrielle died last month — 1 year, 2 months and 21 days after she was born — as COVID-19 cases surged in Latin America's largest and most populous nation, which is now the hardest-hit country globally after the U.S. for virus cases and deaths. ___ EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of an ongoing series of stories remembering people who have died from the coronavirus around the world. ___ Only de Sousa and the child's stepfather were allowed to attend Vitoria Gabrielle's funeral in a cemetery where the gravediggers referred to the child and others recently buried there as “little angels' because their lives were cut short long before they could sin. No words were said at the event, kept brief to avoid more infections; the only sounds were de Sousa's sobs. “My heart is destroyed with the loss of my daughter,” de Sousa, 20, said later in an interview. “You are not ready to lose anybody but, a child? I’m not used to being without her. I miss her a lot.” At home these days, de Sousa loses herself as if she were in another world, spending much of her time gazing at a slideshow on her phone of pictures of her daughter set to the song “Law of Life” by Brazilian pop music star Sabrina Lopes. “Everything that is born, dies. Everything that comes, goes. Today a dream died ... On the road of life, we are passengers. But God protects every extra star in the sky,” Lopes sings. It was on April 9 when Victoria Gabrielle was admitted to Jesus Municipal Hospital to undergo tests to determine why she had been vomiting. By April 20, de Sousa said she realized that her daughter was constantly tired and having difficulty breathing, a condition she had never suffered before. The child was put in intensive care on April 24, diagnosed a short time later with the coronavirus and died on May 4. A death certificate that de Sousa showed to The Associated Press said her daughter's causes of death were “Bilateral pneumonia, infected by COVID-19' along with a buildup of fluid in the brain and swelling of the liver and spleen. While de Sousa is convinced her daughter was infected at the hospital, Rio's Municipal Health Secretariat said in a statement said it wasn't possible to identify the origin of infection because the virus had been spreading throughout Brazil when Vitoria Gabrielle was infected. The statement added that the child received proper care while hospitalized. De Sousa said her son, Gabriel, had always been very close to his sister and doesn't understand why he hasn’t seen her for so long. He just wants to play with her. “He asks about her all day. He says, ”Mom, I miss Gabrielle, why is she living with Jesus Christ?' De Sousa added: “And I say to him, ‘God took her, God wanted her close to him.’ Then he says, ‘Wow, but I want to go see my sister.’' “I'm asking God for strength and it's not easy,' de Sousa said. “So I'm looking at her photos and I'm really missing her.” ____ Clendenning reported from Rio de Janeiro. Associated Press senior television producer Yesica Fisch contributed to this report from Rio de Janeiro.
  • NEW DELHI — The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in India has topped 600,000, with health authorities reporting 19,148 new cases in the past 24 hours. As of Thursday, India's virus tally stood at 604,641 infections, with 100,000 of those infections reported in the past four days. India’s Health Ministry said the death toll from the virus was now 17,834 people. The worst hit three states, including those home to the cities of Mumbai and New Delhi, account for more than 60% of the country’s cases. Despite the surge in infections, the western beach of state of Goa, a popular backpacking destination, opened for tourism on Thursday with the state government allowing 250 hotels to reopen after more than three months. Tourists will either have to carry COVID-19 negative certificates or get tested on arrival. The state has so far reported 1,387 positive cases with four deaths. Many industries and businesses have reopened across the country, and Indians have cautiously returned to the streets. Schools remain closed. ___ HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: — — A predicted surge in U.S. job growth for June might not last — Closing bars to stop coronavirus spread is backed by science — Trump says he’ll now wear mask in public, thinks it makes him looks like Lone Ranger ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: DARWIN, Australia — Australia’s Northern Territory has detected its first person infected with COVID-19 in three months, a man who spent time overseas and in a virus hotspot within the city of Melbourne. Northern Territory Health Minister Natasha Fyles said Thursday the man returned from Melbourne on Monday before 36 suburbs in Australia’s second-largest city were locked down for a month on Wednesday night. Fyles said the man had spent two weeks in hotel quarantine in Melbourne after returning from overseas then spent “a couple of days“ with family in one of the 36 suburbs. Fyles did not say whether the man was likely infected in Melbourne or overseas. The Northern Territory last detected a case on April 6. Victorian Chief Health Minister Brett Sutton said 77 infections had been detected in the past 24 hours in Melbourne, mostly in the locked-down suburbs. ___ SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea says it has confirmed 54 more COVID-19 cases as the coronavirus continues to spread beyond the capital region and reach cities like Gwangju, which has shut schools and tightened social restrictions after dozens fell sick this week. The figures reported Thursday brought the national case total to 12,904, including 282 deaths. Twenty-two of the new cases are in Gwangju, a southwestern city where infections were tied to various places, including office buildings, public libraries, welfare centers and a Buddhist temple. Twenty-three of the new cases came from the densely popular Seoul metropolitan area, which has been at the center of a virus resurgence since late May amid increased economic activity and eased attitudes on social distancing. Health Minster Park Neung-hoo is expressing alarm over the rise of infections in Gwangju, which had one of the smallest case loads among major South Korean cities before this week. ___ BEIJING — China is reporting three newly confirmed cases of coronavirus, and says just one of them involved local transmission in the capital of Beijing. The report Thursday appears to put the country where the virus was first detected late last year on course to eradicating it domestically, at least temporarily. The National Health Commission says the other two cases were brought from outside China. No new deaths were reported, leaving the toll at 4,634 among 83,537 total cases of COVID-19. China credits strict quarantine, social distancing and case tracing policies with helping radically lower the number of cases. China is moving swiftly to re-open its economy, but mass employment looms as the heavily indebted government is reluctant to spend lavishly on stimulus programs. ___ Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • A coronavirus outbreak in Australia's second-largest city continued to grow Thursday and the Northern Territory detected its first case in three months. Northern Territory Health Minister Natasha Fyles said the man came home to Darwin on Monday from Melbourne before a one-month lockdown was imposed on 36 of its suburbs Wednesday night. Before the man tested positive Wednesday, the Northern Territory had last detected a case on April 6. Fyles said the man had spent two weeks in hotel quarantine in Melbourne on returning from overseas then spent “a couple of days“ with family in one of the city's suburbs identified as a coronavirus hot spot. Fyles did not say whether the man was likely infected in Melbourne or overseas. Victorian state Chief Health Minister Brett Sutton said 77 cases had been detected in the past 24 hours in Melbourne, mostly in the locked-down suburbs. A retired judge is holding an inquiry into breaches of infection control in Melbourne hotel quarantine, which has been blamed for some of the spread in the city while much of Australia is virus-free. The Herald Sun newspaper reported allegations that security firms charged the state government for hotel guards that were not provided, guards had sex with quarantined hotels guests and allowed families to go between rooms to play cards. In other developments around the Asia-Pacific region: — India’s coronavirus caseload crossed 600,000 with 19,148 new cases reported in the past 24 hours and the curve on the rise. Nearly 100,000 cases came in the past four days as India’s tally reached 604,641 on Thursday. A total of 17,834 people have died, according to India’s health ministry. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi states account for more than 60% of cases. The western beach of state of Goa, a popular backpacking destination, opened for tourism on Thursday with the state government allowing 250 hotels to reopen after more than three months. Tourists must have COVID-19 negative certificates or get tested on arrival. — The Philippine government is shifting defense spending and putting on hold military modernization projects to help finance the response to COVID-19. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told a news forum that $260 million from his department's budget was shifted to the pandemic campaign. Defense spokesman Arsenio Andolong told The Associated Press the country’s military modernization program may be set back by up to three years after its annual allocation was also slashed by $348 million, which will be used to fight the virus. It’s a tough balancing act for a country with a surfeit of security concerns, including Muslim and communist insurgencies and South China Sea territorial conflicts. Its coronavirus cases exceed 38,500, including 1, 270 deaths. — South Korea reported 54 new cases as the virus continues to spread beyond the capital area and reach cities like Gwangju, which has shut schools and tightened social restrictions after dozens were found infected this week. Health Minster Park Neung-hoo during a virus meeting expressed alarm over the rise of infections in Gwangju, which had one of the smallest caseloads among major South Korean cities before this week. Park urged the city’s residents to refrain from unnecessary gatherings, maintain distance from others and wear masks. — China reported three new cases of coronavirus, including just one case of local transmission in the capital Beijing, appearing to put the country where the virus was first detected late last year on course to eradicating it domestically, at least temporarily. The other two cases were brought from outside the country, according to the National Health Commission. China credits strict quarantine, social distancing and case tracing policies with reducing its cases. Masks are require for entry into many buildings, sometimes along with proof on a mobile phone app that the person is healthy. — New Zealand’s health minister resigned following a series of personal blunders during the coronavirus pandemic. David Clark had earlier described himself as an “idiot” for breaking the nation’s lockdown measures and then last week appeared to blame a beloved health official for border lapses, generating an angry response from the public. Clark said he was becoming a distraction from the country's virus response.
  • Gunmen burst into an unregistered drug rehabilitation center in central Mexico and opened fire Wednesday, killing 24 people and wounding seven, authorities said. Police in the north-central state of Guanajuato said the attack occurred in the city of Irapuato. Three of the seven wounded were reported in serious condition. Apparently the attackers shot everyone at the rehab center. State police said nobody was abducted. Photos purporting to show the scene suggest those at the center were lying down when they were sprayed with bullets. Guanajuato is the scene of a bloody turf battle between the Jalisco cartel and a local gang, and the state has become the most violent in Mexico. No motive was given in the attack, but Gov. Diego Sinhue Rodríguez Vallejo said drug gangs appeared to have been involved. “I deeply regret and condemn the events in Irapuato this afternoon,” the governor wrote. “The violence generated by organized crime not only takes the lives of the young, but it takes the peace from families in Guanajuato.” Mexican drug gangs have killed suspected street-level dealers from rival gangs sheltering at such facilities in the past. It was one of the deadliest attacks on a rehab center since 19 people were killed in 2010 in Chihuahua city in northern Mexico. More than a dozen attacks on such facilities have occurred since then. Mexico has long had problems with rehab centers because most are privately run, underfunded and often commit abuses against recovering addicts. The government spends relatively little money on rehabilitation, often making the unregistered centers the only option available for poor families. In addition, addicts and dealers who face attacks from rivals on the streets sometimes take refuge at the rehab clinics, making the clinics themselves targets for attack. Still other gangs have been accused of forcibly recruiting recovering addicts at the centers as dealers, and killing them if they refused.
  • New Zealand's health minister resigned Thursday following a series of personal blunders during the coronavirus pandemic. David Clark had earlier described himself as an “idiot” for breaking the nation's lockdown measures and then last week appeared to blame a beloved health official for border lapses, generating an angry response from the public. Announcing his resignation, Clark said he'd put all his energy into the job. “But it has become increasingly clear to me that my continuation in the role is distracting from the government's overall response to COVID-19,' he said. Clark said he intended to remain in the parliament as a lower-ranking lawmaker. New Zealand's health response has been praised around the world after the country managed to eliminate community transmission of the virus. But Clark himself has been widely ridiculed. His latest gaffe came last week when he appeared to place the blame for allowing some returning travelers to leave quarantine without being tested with his top official, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield. Bloomfield, who was standing behind Clark while he spoke, appeared stung by the criticism as he frowned and looked away in a video captured by Newshub and viewed tens of thousands of times. Bloomfield has been the nation's trusted medical expert and public face of the virus response — similar to Dr. Anthony Fauci in the United States. Many people were angered by Clark's words, and a Twitter campaign dubbed “Blooms for Bloomfield' was launched to buy flowers for Bloomfield. As hundreds of dollars poured in, Bloomfield asked that the money be donated instead to charities, which it was. It was just the latest in a series of missteps by Clark. In April, he was stripped of some of his responsibilities after defying the country’s strict lockdown measures. He drove 19 kilometers (12 miles) to the beach to take a walk with his family as the government was asking people to make historic sacrifices by staying at home. “I’ve been an idiot, and I understand why people will be angry with me,” Clark said at the time. He also earlier acknowledged driving to a park near his home to go mountain biking, also in defiance of the rules. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the time she normally would have fired Clark but that the country couldn’t afford massive disruption in its health sector while it was fighting the virus. Instead, she stripped Clark of his role as associate finance minister and demoted him to the bottom of the Cabinet rankings. But on Thursday, Ardern said she was ready to accept Clark's resignation. “It’s essential our health leadership has the confidence of the New Zealand public,' Ardern said in a statement. “As David has said to me, the needs of the team must come before him as an individual.” Ardern appointed Education Minister Chris Hipkins to temporarily take over the role. The move comes less than three months before New Zealanders vote in a general election. Ardern, who leads the liberal Labour Party, saw her popularity soar during the early stages of the virus response, although recent opinion polls indicate the conservative National Party, under new leader Todd Muller, is making inroads into Labour's lead.
  • When Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrived in Hong Kong at age 12, the city felt like heaven to him, brimming with hope and freedom. He arrived poor, but over the years embarked on a rags-to-riches path from a garment factory worker to a wealthy businessman known for founding the popular Apple Daily newspaper and for being an outspoken pro-democracy activist. “The hope I had (in Hong Kong) lasted for a long time, it made me who I am today,” Lai said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, hours after a new Hong Kong national security law imposed by mainland China came into effect. “(When I first arrived), I could feel it, it was so palpable, that I almost thought a great future was waiting for me.” But that hope dimmed over the years, and with the enactment of the security law, Lai says the Hong Kong he once knew is dead. “It’s worse than the worst scenario imagined. Hong Kong is totally subdued, totally under control,” he said. “It’s sad that Hong Kong is dead.” The security law is seen by many as Beijing’s boldest move yet to erase the legal firewall between the semi-autonomous territory and the mainland’s authoritarian Communist Party system. Under the law, anyone suspected of taking part in subversive, secessionist or terrorist activities, as well as colluding with foreign forces to intervene in the city’s affairs, could face a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. In some cases, mainland China will assume jurisdiction and suspects could be sent there for trial. Lai said he will continue fighting for democracy, but it will now have to be in a “very different way.” “We will have to see how many of us are left in the fighting camp,” he said, adding that many will be frightened away by the new law. “We will have to stand up and be the backbone of the movement’s integrity, and the integrity of Hong Kong’s justice,' he said. Lai declined to elaborate on how the pro-democracy movement will continue, saying that discussions are needed on how to move forward. He remained hopeful that Hong Kong will one day have democracy. “Dictatorship of such extremes cannot last in today’s world, it’s impossible,” he said. “We have to persist, time is on our side. We are on the right side of history.” Lai also condemned the security legislation for violating the rule of law in Hong Kong, still based on British common law. “The details (of the law) are … very draconian but also very vague,” he said. “They’re saying the security law is going to be used for people who make trouble who are the tiny minority, and that common law will still be useful for commercial businesses and all that. But the two hands can switch at any time.” The city will lose its status as an international financial hub because trust cannot be built when there is no rule of law, and businesses will have no protection, he said. In the future, Hong Kongers will be very cautious about what they say on the phone and on social media, and will be careful whom they speak to, afraid that someone might turn them in, he said. “This is going to be a very different society. I don’t think Hong Kong people, who are used to freedom and rule of law, will be able to adjust,” he said. “Many will leave.” But he emphasized that he would stay, even if one day his family has to leave. “I cannot (leave). If I leave, not only do I disgrace myself, I’d discredit Apple Daily, I’d undermine the solidarity of the democratic movement,” he said. “It’s something I have to take responsibility for.” Lai became an outspoken advocate for democracy in Hong Kong after the bloody June 4, 1989, crackdown on pro-democracy protesters around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. “The reason I went into media was the idea that I will be able to deliver information, which equals delivering freedom,” he said. He founded the Apple Daily tabloid in 1995, ahead of Britain's handover of Hong Kong to China. Like Lai, Apple Daily adopts a strong pro-democracy stance, often urging readers to take part in protests. On Wednesday, its front page denounced the security legislation, stating that the “evil law is the final nail in the coffin for the ‘one country, two systems’ framework” under which Hong Kong was returned to China. Lai, together with 14 other pro-democracy figures, is currently facing charges of organizing and participating in several massive anti-government protests deemed unlawful last year. He says neither the prospect of prison nor the consequences of the national security law fazes him. “If I have to go to prison, I don’t mind. I don’t care,” he said. “I cannot worry, because you never know what kind of measures they will take against me,” Lai said. “It won’t be something I can worry about, I’ll just relax and do what I have to do.”
  • Blocks-long lines formed at bus stops, food markets and shopping centers in Peru's capital Wednesday as people left their homes en masse to go to work or shop as a 106-day coronavirus lockdown ended in many parts of the country. For the first time in months, food vendors offered breakfasts for 50 cents from street carts covered in clear plastic in Lima's historic center. Vendors hawked face shields and disinfectants outside crowded public markets. City workers cleaned statues with jets of water. “God always accompanies me,” said 73-year-old newspaper deliverer Segundina Lolo when asked if she feared the virus with infection rates in the country still high and scientists warning against ending three months of strict stay-at-home orders too soon. Peru has been hit hard by the coronavirus and is still reporting 400 new confirmed cases a day. Until recently it had been following international advice on dealing with the pandemic but the measures didn't stop one of the world’s worst outbreaks. The Andean country is also facing one of the worst econonic forecasts, with the World Bank projecting a 12% drop in GDP in 2020. The 106-day lockdown devastated Peru’s economy, causing thousands of businesses to go under and unemployment to soar. Many of the jobless and poor turned to selling goods in the street to survive despite the stay-at-home orders. An estimated 70% of Peru's work force is employed in the informal economy. President Martin Vizcarra said the goal of easing the lockdown is to “reactivate the economy” and generate jobs. Shopping centers reopened a week ago. Vizcarra said if the virus returns in force “the most severe measure would be to resume quarantine, but it would be the last option.” Lockdown measures have been lifted in Lima and other parts of the country where authorities say the rate of virus transmission is decreasing. But tough measures will remain in place in seven regions in central Peru where infections are on the rise. Health Minister Víctor Zamora told the newspaper La República the lockdown that began March 16 saved 145,000 lives and prevented more than a million hospitalizations. 'It would have been a real massacre without quarantine,” Zamora said. With more than 285,000 confirmed infections, Peru has the seventh highest case count in the world. It has reported 9,677 deaths from COVID-19, the disease that can be caused by the coronavirus.
  • For the first time in almost a century, Mexico has cancelled its professional baseball season, the Mexican Baseball League announced Wednesday. And on the same day, organizers announced the cancellation of the Mexico City Telcel Marathon 2020, which had been scheduled for Aug. 30, citing the safety of participants and spectators. Runners who had registered for the marathon can compete in 2021 or get a refund. The Mexican Baseball League said it regretted the cancellation of the 2020 season Wednesday, noting it was the first time in 95 years a whole season had been cancelled. The summer season had been scheduled to start Aug. 7, but the 16 team owners decided that they could not guarantee the safety of fans and players. Sporting events in Mexico have to be played without spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic. But for baseball, playing without fans would not have been economically feasible. Mexican baseball teams make much of their money from tickets and refreshments at stadiums. They do not have the large broadcast income that soccer teams do.
  • Opponents accused the British government on Wednesday of putting lives at risk by failing to share information about local coronavirus outbreaks with affected areas. The government has reimposed a lockdown on the central England city of Leicester after a spike in cases. Several other communities are striving to contain local outbreaks and avoid having to bring back similar restrictions just as much of the country begins to open up. Leicester, a city of 300,000, has been forced to shut schools, close non-essential shops and bar all but essential travel, days before the rest of England takes further steps out of lockdown with the reopening of restaurants, pubs and hairdressers on Saturday. Officials in Leicester, 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of London, say they weren't given detailed data on the scale and location of local COVID-19 clusters for almost two weeks after the rise in cases was identified, leaving them scrambling to stem the spread of the virus. Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, said the government had publicly mentioned an outbreak in Leicester on June 18 but didn't give local authorities full data for another week, and didn't impose a lockdown until 11 days later. “There was a lost week while the virus was spreading,” Starmer said in the House of Commons. He demanded a “cast-iron guarantee” that no other authority would be put in the same position. The government said “postcode-level” data has been available to local officials across the country since last week, though it didn't explain why it had been unavailable earlier. Officials are trying to pinpoint the seat of the Leicester outbreaks, with attention focused on the city’s garment factories and food-processing plants. Potato-chip maker Walkers, one of the city’s main employers, said 28 members of its 1,400-strong workforce had tested positive for the coronavirus. The company said the number reflected “the situation in the local community” and coincided with an expansion of testing in the city. The U.K.’s official coronavirus death toll stands at 43,906 — the highest in Europe and the third-highest in the world after the U.S. and Brazil. But the country’s infection rate has been falling and Britain is gradually easing lockdown restrictions imposed in March. The pandemic has already taken a heavy economic toll, with the Bank of England estimating the British economy could end the year 20% smaller than it began 2020. Job losses have begun to mount, especially in aviation, retail and hospitality. Some scientists fear lockdown is being eased too quickly. Britain has seen several recent coronavirus outbreaks at hospitals and meat-processing plants, though all appear to have been contained. Several towns and cities have infection levels markedly higher than the national average, though none as high as Leicester. The northern England city of Bradford has 69.4 cases per 100,000 population, according to the latest figures, the second highest in England but only half of Leicester’s 140.2 cases per 100,000. Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliff said authorities “continue to work hard with all our partners to prevent infection spreading as no one wants a second lockdown.' “We must all stay vigilant. We don’t want to see a second spike of cases that inevitably would mean more deaths,” she said. “Don’t be conned into thinking it’s all OK now. It’s not.” ___ Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • The U.N. Security Council demanded an “immediate cessation of hostilities” in key conflicts including Syria, Yemen, Libya, South Sudan and Congo on Wednesday to tackle COVID-19 in its first resolution on the new coronavirus. The U.N.’s most powerful body voted unanimously to adopt the resolution after the United States and China resolved a lengthy dispute over mentioning the World Health Organization. Germany’s U.N. Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, the council president for July, announced the result, calling it “a sign for hope for all people currently living in conflict zones around the world.” “It is now the obligation of the council – and all parties to armed conflicts – to implement this resolution in our work this month and beyond,” he said. The resolution backs U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ March 23 call for global ceasefires to tackle the pandemic, and demands an “immediate cessation of hostilities” in all conflicts on its agenda which include key conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere. It calls on all warring parties “to engage immediately in a durable humanitarian pause for at least 90 consecutive days” to enable the safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid and medical evacuations. The resolution, sponsored by France and Tunisia, states that these measures do not apply to military operations against the Islamic State and al-Qaida extremist groups and their affiliates. Repeated attempts to adopt a Security Council resolution have been stymied over a reference to the World Health Organization. President Donald Trump suspended funding to WHO in early April, accusing the U.N. health agency of failing to stop the virus from spreading when it first surfaced in China. He said it “must be held accountable,” and accused WHO of parroting Beijing. China strongly supports WHO and insisted that its role in calling for global action on COVID-19 be included in any resolution, diplomats said, while the U.S. insisted on a reference to “transparency” on COVID-19 and no mention of the WHO. The resolution just adopted doesn’t mention either the WHO, a U.N. health agency, or transparency. But it does take note of a resolution adopted April 2 by the 193-member U.N. General Assembly which “calls for intensified international cooperation to contain, mitigate and defeat the pandemic, including by exchanging information, scientific knowledge and best practices and by applying the relevant guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization.” In May, Security Council members thought they had agreement on a compromise French-Tunisian draft that didn’t directly mention the U.N. health agency, but diplomats said the United States changed its mind and objected after earlier agreeing. China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun told a press briefing Wednesday afternoon that Beijing and almost all council members wanted the council to respond quickly to the secretary-general’s ceasefire call and blamed the U.S. for “politicizing this process.” But he welcomed the council’s “unity” in adopting the resolution, calling it “a victory” for the Security Council, for multilateralism and for the people and “a meaningful result” even though it’s a little late. France’s U.N. Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière and Tunisia’s U.N. Ambasador Kaïs Kabtani called the resolution “an important milestone,” saying it “will be critical to mitigate the peace and security implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Stressing their support for the WHO, they said in a joint statement: “France and Tunisia would like to pay tribute to the different U.N. entities, including the World Health Organization, which are playing a key role in the response to the pandemic.” Secretary-General Guterres told a press conference last Thursday that his appeal for a global ceasefire has been endorsed by nearly 180 countries, more than 20 armed groups, religious leaders and millions of members of civil society. “The difficulty is to implement it,” he said. The secretary-general said he and U.N. envoys are working together “to establish effective ceasefires and doing everything possible to overcome the legacy of long-lasting conflicts with deep mistrust among the parties and spoilers with a vested interest in disruption.” The General Assembly adopted another resolution on April 20 urging global action to rapidly scale up development, manufacturing and access to medicine, vaccines and medical equipment to confront the pandemic. While General Assembly resolutions reflect the opinion of governments around the world, they are not legally binding. By contrast, Security Council resolutions are legally binding. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday that a council resolution is very important. “The Security Council has primacy in the U.N. over issues of peace and security,” he said. “A strong unified statement from that body supporting the secretary general’s call for a global ceasefire, I think, would go a long way in, hopefully, making a call for a ceasefire a reality.”