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CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: Donald Trump at odds with medical team as US infections pass 39,000

New York state reported more than 20,000 cases by Monday

New York City's financial district is deserted on March 23, 2020 amid coronavirus restrictions. Reuters
New York City's financial district is deserted on March 23, 2020 amid coronavirus restrictions. Reuters

US President Donald Trump's opinions were at odds with his medical team on Monday, as the number of Covid-19 cases in the US passed 39,000 and stock markets took another hit.

Mr Trump, at 11.50pm on Sunday, tweeted: "We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.

"At the end of the 15-day period [March 31], we will make a decision as to which way we want to go.”

Later on Monday, he posted: “This is why we need borders."

The US president is hoping for gradual loosening of the Centres for Disease Control guidelines after the two weeks.

Current guidelines advise people to stay at home, and go further in states such as California, which issued a “shelter in place” order.

Vice President Mike Pence also hinted at a change in these guidelines on Sunday, to make it possible for people who have been exposed to the coronavirus to return to work.

But the top US medical official continued to push a different message.

"I want America to understand. This week it's going to get bad," US Surgeon General Jerome Adams told NBC on Monday.

“We really, really need everyone to stay at home.

"I think there are a lot of people who are doing the right things, but I think that unfortunately we're finding out a lot of people think this can't happen to them."

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Science magazine that he would try to improve Mr Trump’s accuracy about Covid-19.

"When you're dealing with the White House, sometimes you have to say things one, two, three, four times, and then it happens," Dr Fauci said. "So I'm going to keep pushing."

The Johns Hopkins University tracker showed 39,207 cases were recorded in the US as of Monday morning, with 466 deaths.

New York, with more than 20,000 cases reported, and Washington states have been hit the hardest.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state was testing 16,000 people a day.

The coronavirus has also spread among the political class. Senator Rand Paul’s positive test forced some of his colleagues to isolate themselves.

Former Democratic presidential contender Senator Amy Klobuchar announced on Monday that her husband had tested positive for the virus.

But the Senate’s inability to pass a stimulus package added to the administration’s anxiety and continued to hurt the markets on Monday.

The Dow Jones index plunged more than 900 points, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures dropped as much as 5 per cent.

Meanwhile, an American vodka maker, Tito, announced that it was working on a hand sanitiser.

The coronavirus spread is now the main topic in the 2020 presidential race.

Frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, Joe Biden, continued to criticise Mr Trump on Monday for what he called the lack of a "steady hand" in managing the crisis.

Updated: March 24, 2020 02:44 AM

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