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Coronavirus

US counters China's 'mask diplomacy' with $225m coronavirus aid

'No country can match this generosity,' Pompeo says

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses a news conference in Washington on April 7.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. will commit an additional $225 million to "reduce transmission" of the highly contagious novel coronavirus and bolster the global response, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday.

The funding will be used to boost screening capabilities and train health care professionals, among other things, Pompeo said.

"No country can match this level of generosity," he said, explaining that the U.S. had already provided $274 million to 64 countries.

The move is seen as a response to China's so-called mask diplomacy. Beijing has sent medical supplies and other assistance to 120 countries as of the end of March, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

However, Pompeo said Washington would not be donating medical supplies, such as personal protection equipment, or PPEs, because of a dire need domestically.

"Right now, given the great need for PPE in our own country, our focus will be on keeping critical medical items in the United States until demand is met here," he said.

As of Tuesday, more than 1.4 million worldwide have been infected and more than 81,000 people have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

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