Trump says ‘very safe’ to hold campaign rallies despite virus spread04 March 2020 AFP, Washington
Donald Trump said the general risk remains low in New York on Monday.
US President Donald Trump insisted Monday that campaign rallies do not put his supporters at risk of catching or spreading the coronavirus, and insisted the country was well prepared for the disease.
"I think it's very safe," to continue holding frequent rallies across the country, Trump said when questioned in the Oval Office.
"You could ask that to the Democrats because they're having a lot of rallies," said Trump, who is campaigning for a second term in November's elections.
The real-estate tycoon was scheduled to hold another rally in North Carolina later Monday, after a meeting with the heads of large pharmaceutical companies to discuss efforts to contain the virus. "We've asked them to accelerate whatever they're doing in terms of a vaccine," Trump said.
Vice President Mike Pence met with the nation's governors and President Donald Trump met with pharmaceutical companies to talk about progress toward a vaccine as the death toll from the novel coronavirus in the U.S. climbed to six.
The United States has been spared the worst so far as the virus spreads around the world, but over the weekend it announced its first two recorded deaths, in the area around Seattle in the western state of Washington, which has been the worst hit region in the country.
New York announced its first case of the disease, a 39-year-old health care worker who had recently returned from Iran, which has been particularly badly hit.
"In general, there is no doubt that there will be more cases where we find people who test positive," said Governor Andrew Cuomo. "This is New York, we're a gateway to the world." But he added that "there is no reason for undue anxiety-the general risk remains low in New York."
The death toll from the new coronavirus in the United States climbed to six on Monday as the contagion took root in the country's Pacific Northwest and continued its march across the globe.
Worldwide, close to 3,100 people have succumbed to the illness even as a clear shift in the crisis was emerging, with nine times as many cases recorded outside China as inside, according to the UN health agency.
Andorra, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Jordan, Latvia, Portugal, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia were among countries that confirmed their first cases, along with Senegal, which became the second sub-Saharan African country to do so.
All of the US deaths have occurred in the state of Washington, where officials warned residents the battle against the disease was shifting from containment to mitigation.
"The risk for all of us of becoming infected will be increasing," said Jeff Duchin, a health officer in King County where five of the deaths occurred. The district is home to Seattle, a city with a population of more than 700,000 people.
The White House, which has been accused of downplaying the threat from the virus, continued to strike a bullish tone. Vice President Mike Pence declared that a treatment "could literally be available by this summer, or early fall."
He was likely referring to remdesivir, an antiviral drug developed by the pharmaceutical firm Gilead that has already been used to treat one US patient and was moving toward two expansive final stage trials in Asia.
Pence also announced American pharmaceuticals were teaming up in a consortium to fight the virus, and said that South Korea and Italy, two of the hardest-hit nations, would screen all their airline passengers bound for the US.