Trump to continue with rallies despite rise in coronavirus infections
PALM BEACHUS: President Donald Trump signalled on Saturday that he has no intention of halting campaign rallies despite surging coronavirus infections, as a case was confirmed for the first time within miles of the White House.
The president struck a defiant tone as he spoke to reporters about the outbreak. He was at his Mar a Lago resort in southern Florida, where he was hosting his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro.
"We will have tremendous rallies and we're doing very well, and we've done a fantastic job with respect to that subject," Mr Trump said when asked if his "Keep America Great" campaign events would continue.
Mr Trump's remarks came as the number of cases confirmed across the US leapt past 400, with 19 deaths confirmed so far, mainly in the west coast state of Washington.
Meanwhile, health authorities announced the first confirmed case in the nation's capital - a Washington DC resident in his 50s with no history of international travel and no close contacts with anyone known to be infected.
Asked if he was concerned that the virus had spread to within a few miles of the White House, Mr Trump replied: "No, I'm not concerned at all."
The president had already insisted, as he visited the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday, that the risk of having so many people in close proximity "doesn't bother me at all".
The CDC warns on its coronavirus web page against people congregating in crowds and encourages the elderly, in particular, to stay home as much as possible.
Mr Trump has been holding rallies - which attract many senior citizens - at a rate of more than one a week. But his website currently indicates "no events scheduled" for the coming days, without giving a reason.
Mr Trump has been heavily criticised for repeatedly contradicting the advice of his administration's own experts.
At the CDC on Friday, he claimed falsely that tests for the virus were available for anyone who needed one. - AFP