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Trump urges calm as US reports worrisome new virus case

Trump urges calm on virus

President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that a widespread U.S. 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.

Trump sought to minimize fears as he insisted the U.S. 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 co-ordinating the efforts.

“This will end,” Trump said of the outbreak at a White House news conference. “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.

Shortly after Trump spoke, the CDC announced a worrisome development: Another person in the U.S. is infected — someone in California who doesn't appear to have travelled abroad or been exposed to another patient. If the CDC confirms that, 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 characterized 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 U.S. to 60, most of them evacuated from outbreak zones.

Trump credited border restrictions that have blocked people coming into the U.S. from China for keeping infections low so far. But now countries around the world — from South Korea and Japan to Italy and Iran — are experiencing growing numbers of cases. Asked if it was time to either lift the China restrictions, or take steps for travellers from elsewhere, he said: “At a right time we may do that. Right now it's not the time.”



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