President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in Washington. Picture: Evan Vucci/AP
President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in Washington. Picture: Evan Vucci/AP

Virus stat that ‘shocked’ Donald Trump

DONALD Trump has played down fears of the coronavirus spreading through the United States, saying it's nothing compared to the flu.

"Our first priority from our standpoint is the health and safety of the American people," Mr Trump said. "Because of all we've done the risk to the American people remains very low. We have the greatest experts in the world right here.

"You know what shocked me? The flu in our country kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year. That was shocking to me. When you look at what we have with the 15 (coronavirus victims) - they are recovering. One is pretty sick, but will hopefully recover … and the rest are safe."

The President said "almost" every all of the country's 15 coronavirus victims are getting better. He said eight have returned home and are in isolation, five have fully recovered, one remains in hospital, and one is in "pretty good shape".

Mr Trump also praised Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying he is working "very, very hard".

He then held up a list of the top 11 countries for pandemic preparedness, per the The Global Health Security Index, noting repeatedly that the US topped the list. Australia came in fourth.

Mr Trump also announced that Vice President Mike Pence would be in charge of overseeing the coronavirus outbreak in the US, and will work with health experts and scientists.

"He's got a certain talent for this," the President said.

The White House on Monday sent politicians an urgent US$2.5 billion plan to address the deadly coronavirus outbreak, whose rapid spread and threat to the global economy rocked financial markets.

The White House budget office said the funds are for vaccines, treatment and protective equipment. The request was immediately slammed by Democrats as insufficient.

As the virus continues to spread globally, there are still concerns that the virus will grow in the US.

Nancy Messonnier of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention warned an outbreak would result in a "disruption to everyday life".

"We expect we will see community spread in this country," she said.

"It's not so much a question of if this will happen any more, but the rather more correct question to be asking is, 'When this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness?

"We will maintain, for as long as practical, a dual approach (in which) we continue measures to contain this disease but also employ strategies to minimise the impact on our communities.

"The data over the last week in the spread in other countries has certainly raised our level of concern and raised our level of expectation that we are going to have community spread here."



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