Trump to discuss coronavirus threat at White House

By Kevin Freking, Associated Press

President Donald Trump has said he will address the nation about the coronavirus threat, as officials reported the first US death from the strain known as Covid-19.

Mr Trump tweeted that he will discuss the latest developments at a White House news conference at 1.30pm local time. Mr Trump addressed the nation from the White House earlier this week.

On Friday, health officials confirmed a second case of coronavirus in the US in a person who did not travel internationally or have close contact with anyone who had the virus. The US has a total of about 60 confirmed cases.

At a political rally on Friday night in South Carolina, Mr Trump sought to steal some of the spotlight from his Democratic rivals who were campaigning across the state on the evening before its presidential primary.

The president said Democrats were ‘politicising’ the deadly virus (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

He accused Democrats of “politicising” the coronavirus threat and boasted about preventive steps he has ordered in an attempt to keep the virus that originated in China from spreading across the United States. Those steps include barring entry by most foreign nationals who had recently visited China.

“They have no clue. They don’t have a clue. They can’t even count their votes in Iowa,” Mr Trump said, referring to problems that plagued the Democratic vote in the Iowa caucuses at the beginning of February.

“They tried the impeachment hoax. … This is their new hoax,” Mr Trump said of Democratic ciritcisms of his administration’s coronavirus response.

Some Democrats have said Mr Trump could have acted sooner to bolster the US response to the virus. Democratic and Republican members of Congress have also said his request for an additional 2.5 billion dollars (£1.95 billion) to defend against the virus is not enough. They have signalled they will provide substantially more funding.

Mr Trump said Democrats want him to fail and argued that steps he has taken so far have kept cases to a minimum and prevented deaths in the US.