President Donald Trump on Wednesday further ratcheted up his attacks on China saying its “incompetence” caused the Covid-19 pandemic, which he described as “mass worldwide killing”.
The American president and his Republican allies have increasingly targeted China in a bid to shift the blame for the high number of infections and fatalities in the United States and the economic downturn triggered by the mitigation efforts with an eye on the November general elections.
Referring to a statement issued by “some wacko in China” the president wrote in a tweet “it was the ‘incompetence of China’, and nothing else, that did this mass Worldwide killing”.
The president has called for an independent investigation in the origin of the epidemic in Wuhan in China last December and Beijing’s attempts to conceal the true extent of the epidemic, with the complicity of the World Health Organization. He has separately accused the WHO and its director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus personally of “missteps” of their own, including abetting China’s cover-up.
With all 50 United States set to reopen partially President Trump stirred fresh controversy Tuesday saying he considered it a “badge of honor” that the United States had the highest number of infections in the world at 1.5 million, arguing it was a testimony to increased testing.
Critics pounced on the president, arguing, he was taking credit for the highest number of infections.
“So when we have a lot of cases, I don’t look at that as a bad thing; I look at that as — in a certain respect, as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better,” he had said, “I view it as a badge of honor. Really, it’s a badge of honor.”
There were 1.52 million confirmed Covid-19 cases in the United States till Wednesday morning and 91,983 fatalities, up by 20,260 and 1,574 in past 24 hours respectively. The total number of tests administered thus far was 12.6 million, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The high number of infections is a reflection of higher testing, as the president has argued in his defence, but critics have largely attributed them, and the high fatalities, to his administration delayed and botched initial response to the outbreak, which allowed the virus to spread rapidly unchallenged.
President Trump has touted testing figures in recent days to counter criticism that the United States is not testing enough, specially with states reopening steadily. Public health officials have sought more testing to ensure lifting of curbs on public life did not lead to a resurgence as it has in countries.
Connecticut became Wednesday the 50th American state to join the national reopening, allowing restaurants, malls and some outdoor activities to resume. As in a number of other states, rest of the economy and public life will be reopened in phases depending, determined by declining incidence of infections.