Donald Trump says Democrat criticism of his response to coronavirus is 'hoax'

Donald Trump has denounced criticism of his handling of the coronavirus crisis as a ‘hoax’ cooked up by his political enemies.

The US President told a rally in South Carolina that the Democrats want to see him fail and dismissed accusations he has not prepared the country against the killer disease.

He argued that the steps he had taken had kept US cases to a minimum and prevented any deaths so far.

In a rambling speech, he also attempted to link the outbreak to the immigration policies of his rivals saying the ‘open borders’ were a direct threat to public health.

Trump told a Republican gathering: ‘A virus that starts in China, bleeds its way into various countries all around the world, doesn’t spread widely at all in the United States because of the early actions that myself and my administration took, against a lot of other wishes, and the Democrats’ single talking point, and you see it, is that it’s Donald Trump’s fault.’

Coronavirus has now spread to almost 60 countries with more than 84,000 people contracting the illness.

Deaths have topped 2,800 and the vast majority of those are in China.

The US has 15 cases so far, including two people who have not travelled internationally or come into close contact with anyone who has had the virus.

Some Democrats have said Trump could have acted sooner to bolster the US response to the crisis, which yesterday saw financial markets plunge to their lowest since the 2008 financial crash.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers also have said his request for an additional $2.5 billion (£1.91 bn) to defend against the virus isn’t enough.

They’ve signalled they will provide substantially more funding.

Trump has insisted he has the problem under control and that the US ‘is doing great.’

He said those who have said he should do more are ‘politicising the coronavirus’ and added ‘this is their new hoax.’

He continued: ‘The Democrats want us to fail so badly, even if their actions hurt the people of this country.

‘They will hurt the people themselves, their wealth, their everything.

‘They are willing to hurt this country to say bad even if they know it’s not so.’

Trump then attempted to link coronavirus with immigration, despite no suggestion that the US cases have been spread via its southern border – the focus of Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric.

He continued: ‘We are doing everything in our power to keep the infection and those carrying the infection from entering the country. We have no choice.

‘Whether it’s the virus that we’re talking about, or the many other public health threats, the Democrat policy of open borders is a direct threat to the health and wellbeing of all Americans.’

Coronavirus, now renamed Covid-19, originated in a food market in Wuhan, China in December last year.

There has now been a slowdown in new infections in China but they have soared in South Korea, Iran and Italy leading to a growing anxiety worldwide.

Health officials in the UK are trying to figure out how a man from Surrey caught the disease as he had not been abroad, unlike the other 19 confirmed cases here.

His GP is now displaying flu-like symptoms and the hunt is on for anyone he may have come into contact with.

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