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White House coronavirus task force holds briefing as WHO calls for funding


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The Department of Health and Human Services will host a news briefing Friday with members of the White House’s coronavirus task force.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will likely address the public alongside other members of the task force, including acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli and others.

As of Friday, more than 31,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported in over two dozen countries, resulting in at least 636 deaths almost exclusively in China. The WHO declared the virus a global health emergency last week, a rare designation that helps the international agency mobilize financial and political support to contain the outbreak.

On Wednesday, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged the WHO’s 196 member countries to “invest in preparedness,” not “panic.” He said that funding for outbreak preparedness in surrounding countries “has remained grossly inadequate” in the past.

The WHO has tapped $9 million of funding from its contingency fund for emergencies, Tedros said Wednesday. He said the organization has sent medical supplies such as masks, gloves, gowns and diagnostic tests around the world.

He also announced that the WHO is launching a “strategy preparedness and response plan.”

The WHO is requesting $675 million to fund the plan for the next three months, he said, adding that $60 million of that would fund WHO operations and the rest for country support.

[To see the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit CNBC’s live updates here.]

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