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Trump says US ‘very, very ready’ to handle coronavirus as outbreak grows

By Associated Press Reporters

US President Donald Trump has said the country is “very, very ready” to handle the coronavirus outbreak as a new case was confirmed in the country.

The American leader said he had put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the domestic response to the virus known as Covid-19 which he insisted would not necessarily become a pandemic.

“This will end,” Mr Trump said of the outbreak at a White House news conference.

“You don’t want to see panic because there’s no reason to be panicked.”

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention later announced a person in California had been confirmed to have the illness, despite seemingly not having travelled abroad or been exposed to another person with Covid-19.

The latest infection takes the total number of infected in the US to 60 people, most of whom were evacuated from outbreak zones.

In Asia, China and South Korea each reported hundreds more cases of the virus.

China reported 433 new cases, mostly in Wuhan, where the virus emerged in December, bringing the country’s total to 78,497 cases.

Beijing also said there had been 29 more deaths, taking its toll to 2,744.

South Korea reported 334 more cases, bringing its total to 1,595.

Most were in the country’s fourth-biggest city, Daegu, where the outbreak has hit hardest. But there are signs the virus is spreading with dozens of cases in Seoul and South Korea’s second-largest city, Busan.

Brazil has also confirmed its first case, while numbers continue to climb in Europe and the Middle East.

Global worries about the Covid-19 illness have been multiplying, as the epidemic expanded geographically and for the first time caused more new cases outside China than inside the country.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has expressed concern about increases in Covid-19 cases (Salvatore Di Nolfi/AP)

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported that there are 22 people dead amid 141 confirmed cases in the Islamic Republic.

A graphic published on Thursday by the agency shows that the virus has spread to 20 of Iran’s 31 provinces.

The hardest-hit among them remained the province home to the holy Shiite city of Qom, with 63 confirmed cases.

World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “The sudden increases of cases in Italy, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Korea are deeply concerning.”

South Korea has followed China in expressing dismay at travel restrictions imposed by other countries.

About 40 nations and regions so far have prohibited or restricted South Korean visitors, according to Lee Lee Tae-ho, Seoul’s second vice minister of foreign affairs, who described such moves as excessive and said his government has been effectively utilising its “world-best quarantine capabilities”.

But calls have grown inside South Korea for expanding its own entry ban, which currently covers only visitors from China’s Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital.

China has put Wuhan and nearby cities on lockdown, many airlines have reduced Chinese flights, and many places have increased monitoring of arrivals from China, all resulting in far few Chinese arrivals around the globe.