Trump says he asked officials to slow down testing for Covid-19

This article is more than 12 months old

TULSA, OKLAHOMA United States President Donald Trump told thousands of cheering supporters he had asked US officials to slow down testing for the novel coronavirus, calling it a "double-edged sword" that led to more cases being discovered.

Mr Trump said the US had now tested 25 million people, far more than other country.

"When you do testing to that extent, you're gonna find more people, you're gonna find more cases. So I said to my people slow the testing down, please," he told a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where many supporters were not wearing face masks.

A White House official later said Mr Trump was joking about his call for a slowdown in testing. "He was obviously kidding. We are leading the world in testing and have conducted 25 million plus in testing," the official said.

Mr Trump said his actions in blocking travellers from China and Europe had helped save "hundreds of thousands of lives".

But he said the "radical fake news" media had not given him credit for doing what he called "a phenomenal job" responding to the outbreak.

Several US states are reporting troubling spikes in infection rates, mainly in the south and west of the country.

Health experts say expanded diagnostic testing accounts for some, but not all, of the growth in cases.

They also call it a key tool in fighting the spread of the disease.

The virus had been detected in at least 2.23 million people across the US as of Saturday. It has also killed more than 119,000 Americans.

In his remarks, Mr Trump used terms such as "Kung Flu" virus and "Chinese virus" to refer to Covid-19.

"That name gets further and further away from China, as opposed to calling it the Chinese virus," he said.

Mr Trump's response to the outbreak has sapped his popularity.

Seventy-six per cent of Americans remain concerned about the spread of Covid-19, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll. - REUTERS