The head of the World Health Organization has given a strong defence of his agency's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, in response to US President Donald Trump's criticism and suggestion that Washington could review its funding for the agency.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus repeatedly called for unity and a halt to "politicisation" of the global health crisis.

In Washington last night, Mr Trump told reporters that he was "going to put a very powerful hold" on funding to the WHO, accusing it of being "very biased towards China".

The US is the biggest financial contributor to the United Nations body.

"The WHO really blew it," President Trump said in a Twitter post.

"For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China-centric. We will be giving that a good look.

"Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?"

"They called it wrong," he said of a WHO travel warning on China. "They could have called it months earlier."

"We're going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We're going to put a very powerful hold on it and we're going to see."

In his response, Mr Tedros said he expected US funding to continue with traditional bipartisan support.

The United States provided more than $400 million to the Geneva-based agency in 2019, according to US figures.

The WHO website shows the US as its top donor, contributing nearly 15% of the budget.

"We have kept the world informed about the latest data, information and evidence," Mr Tedros said, noting that tomorrow would mark 100 days since China first notified the organisation of cases of "pneumonia with unknown cause" on 31 December.

Mr Tedros, a former foreign minister of Ethiopia, also rejected President Trump's suggestion that the WHO was "China-centric", saying: "We are close to every nation, we are colour-blind."

The United Nations agency would conduct its usual assessment of its performance after the emergency and draw lessons about its strengths and weaknesses, Mr Tedros said, adding: "We make mistakes like other human beings."

Mr Tedros said: "So my advice, three things. Please, unity at national level, no using Covid for political points. Second, honest solidarity at the global level. And honest leadership from the US and China."

"The most powerful should lead the way and please quarantine Covid politics," he added.

Mr Tedros rejected "racist slurs" against him, which he said had originated in Taiwan, and disclosed that he had also received a death threat during the crisis.

"We are losing people, why would I care about being attacked when people are dying?" and noted there are already "60,000 body bags" after more than 1.3 million infections.

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President Trump gave no details about how much money would be withheld and minutes later he said he would only "look at ending funding".

China faces criticism over the way it handled the initial coronavirus outbreak and Mr Trump and others have expressed doubt over the accuracy of Chinese statistics for cases and deaths.

He has been widely criticised for initially downplaying the virus, which he likened to an ordinary flu before later accepting it was a national emergency.

More than 12,800 Americans have now died from Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University, and with nearly 400,000 cases the country has the most in the world.

A record total of 1,939 people died in the US in the 24 hours up to yesterday evening.