Sun | Apr 5, 2020

Trump urges calm even as US reports worrisome new virus case

Published:Thursday | February 27, 2020 | 9:26 AM
President Donald Trump with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar (back center) and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health Anthony Fauci (right) and other members of the president's coronavirus task force speaks during a news conference at the Brady press briefing room of the White House, Wednesday, February 26, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump declared that a widespread US outbreak of the new respiratory virus sweeping the globe isn’t inevitable even as top health authorities at his side warned Americans that more infections are coming.

Shortly after Trump spoke Wednesday, the government announced a worrisome development: Another person in the US is infected — someone in California who doesn’t appear to have the usual risk factors of having travelled abroad or being exposed to another patient.

At a White House news conference, Trump sought to minimise fears as he insisted the US is “very, very ready” for whatever the COVID-19 outbreak brings.

Under fire about the government’s response, he put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of coordinating the efforts.

“This will end,” Trump said of the outbreak. “You don’t want to see panic because there’s no reason to be panicked.”

But standing next to him, the very health officials Trump praised for fighting the new coronavirus stressed that schools, businesses and individuals need to get ready.

“We do expect more cases,” said Dr Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If the CDC confirms that the latest US case doesn’t involve travel or contact with an infected person, it would be a first in this country and a sign that efforts to contain the virus’ spread haven’t been enough.

“It’s possible this could be an instance of community spread of COVID-19,” the CDC said in a statement.

More than 81,000 cases of COVID-19, an illness characterised by fever and coughing and in serious cases shortness of breath or pneumonia, have occurred since the new virus emerged in China.

The newest case from California brings the total number infected in the US to 60, most of them evacuated from outbreak zones.

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