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Coronavirus? Trump says be a germophobe like him

US President Donald Trump is a frequent hand washer and says more people should follow his example (AFP Photo/Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)

Washington (AFP) - Donald Trump had advice Wednesday for people worried by the coronavirus: be a germophobe like him.

Frequent hand-washing has long been a quirk of the real estate billionaire and Republican president.

He said his habit is exactly what's needed for protecting against the easily spread and potentially fatal coronavirus.

"I do it a lot anyway as you probably heard," he told a press conference in the White House, triggering laughter.

"Wash your hands, stay clean. You don't have to necessarily grab every handrail unless you have to," Trump said. "When somebody sneezes, I try to bail out."

Trump recounted a recent close encounter with someone who was sick -- and how he dealt with it.

"I had a man came up to me a week ago. I hadn't seen him in a long time. I said, 'how you doing?' He said 'fine, fine.'

"He hugs me. I said 'are you well?' He said 'no, I have the worst fever and the worst flu.' And he's hugging and kissing me," Trump recounted, acting out the encounter for journalists.

"So I said 'excuse me.' I went and started washing my hands."