Trump accuses Democrats of coronavirus 'hoax' as confirmed cases in US gather pace

President Donald Trump accused Democrats of a new “hoax” over criticism of his handling of the coronavirus threat, as US health officials reported Friday a fourth case of novel coronavirus of unknown origin, indicating the disease was spreading in the country.

A man wears a facemask while pushing his shopping cart in Alhambra, California on February 27, 2020.
A man wears a facemask while pushing his shopping cart in Alhambra, California on February 27, 2020. © Frederic J. Brown, AFP

The latest case is a boy under 18 in Washington State who tested "presumptive positive" and is currently in home isolation in Snohomish County. The high school he attends will be shut until March 3 while it is deep cleaned, the Washington State Department of Health said.

A positive test is treated as "presumptive" until the results have been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Earlier Friday, Californian health authorities said an older woman was confirmed infected with unknown origin -- the second such case in the northern part of the state.

"This new case indicates that there is evidence of community transmission but the extent is still not clear," said Sara Cody, director of public health for Santa Clara County.

"What we know now is that the virus is here, present at some level, but we still don't know to what degree," she added.

The latest infections have heightened fears of an outbreak across the country.

Trump calls the coronavirus a Democrat "hoax"

President Donald Trump and his administration have come under fire for a slow response to the coronavirus. Lawmakers say that his proposed $2.5 billion injection to boost defenses against the virus is not enough.

Trump, however, has responded to criticism of his response to the coronavirus by blaming others. He said that Democrats were politicising the virus, even calling it the Democrats’ “new hoax”.

“They're doing everything they can to instill fear in people, and I think it's ridiculous, and I think they're very disreputable,” he told reporters.

"We are preparing for the worst," he said. "My administration has taken the most aggressive action in modern history to prevent the spread of this illness in the United States."

According to the Centers for Disease Control more than 60 people are infected with the disease in the United States, the majority of them in California.

The state's governor Gavin Newsom said on Thursday 33 people had tested positive for the virus, and five of them had left California.

High risk of global spread of virus

Worldwide more than 85,000 people have been infected and over 2,900 have died.

The UN has said that the window of opportunity for containing the virus is narrowing, while the World Health Organisation has announced that there is a high risk of the virus spreading worldwide.

The escalating number of cases has sent stock markets tumbling, with Wall Street plunging to its worst week since the financial crisis. Tourism has plunged in economies around the world. Economists have forecast a drop in global growth to 2.4%, the slowest since the 2009 recession.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

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