The US is halting funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, the nation’s president announced Tuesday. 

"Today I am instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization's role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus," Donald Trump said during a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing. 

He said American taxpayers provide between $400-$500 million per year to the organization whereas China gives only $40 million. 

"As the organization's leading sponsor, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability.

"One of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations," said Trump. 

Trump ignited a firestorm on Twitter last week, accusing the world’s largest health body of being "very China-centric" and giving bad advice during the coronavirus outbreak. He said his administration would have a look into suspending funding. 

He also said the WHO opposed travel restrictions introduced by the US on China and other nations in January but he was not convinced and suspended travel from China, "saving untold lives." 

"Had other nations likewise suspended travel from China, countless lives would have been saved," he said. 

"The WHO’s attack on travel restrictions put political correctness above life-saving measures. The reality is that the WHO failed to adequately obtain, vet and share information in a timely and transparent fashion," the president added. 

"We will continue to engage with the WHO to see if it can make meaningful reforms.” 

UN response 

Following the announcement, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres issued a statement calling for support for the health organization "as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19."

Guterres warned that it was not time to cut resources for the operations of humanitarian organizations as well as the WHO. 

"As I have said before, now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences," he said.

Trump said that had the WHO done its job to get experts into China and assess the situation on the ground, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very few deaths.

As of Tuesday evening, the coronavirus death toll in the US had surpassed 25,000 with over 600,000 cases, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. 

Since the virus emerged last December in the Chinese city of Wuhan, it has spread to at least 185 countries and regions.

There are nearly 2 million confirmed cases globally and more than 126,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. More than 485,000 have recovered.