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Trump downplays epidemic fears of new coronavirus

Trump downplays epidemic fears of new coronavirus

AFP
Washington
President Donald Trump has played down fears of a major coronavirus outbreak in the United States, even as infections ricochet around the world.
“I think that there’s a chance that it could get worse, a chance it could get fairly substantially worse, but nothing’s inevitable,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
His comments contradicted US health officials who urged Americans to be ready to cancel mass gatherings and work from home. There are 60 cases in the US so far.
Following Trump’s upbeat assessment, the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said it had detected the first case of unknown origin in the country, signalling that the virus may be spreading within communities.
The US and other countries are also bracing for more cases to be imported from abroad, with growing concern for poorer nations with weak health care systems.
Trump said the US was considering travel restrictions on Italy and South Korea, which has almost 1,600 cases, the highest number outside China.
The US already restricts arrivals from China.
Trump said on Wednesday he was appointing Vice President Mike Pence to lead the US response to the novel coronavirus.
“I’m going to be announcing exactly right now that I’m going to be putting our vice president Mike Pence in charge,” Trump said.
“Mike will be working with the professionals and doctors and everybody else that’s working on the team.”
The WHO has urged countries to prepare for a potential pandemic, though it stopped short of declaring one.