‘Mike has a certain talent for this’: Trump picks Pence to run coronavirus response

Donald Trump has appointed his vice president Mike Pence to lead the US response to the coronavirus.

The US president said: “Mike will be working with the professionals, doctors and everybody else that is working.

“The team is brilliant. I spent a lot of time with the team the last couple weeks but they are brilliant and we’re doing really well and Mike is going to be in charge and Mike will report back to me. But he has a certain talent for this.”

Obama just appointed an Ebola Czar with zero experience in the medical area and zero experience in infectious disease control. A TOTAL JOKE!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2014

Speaking about the outbreak, Mr Trump said: “This will end.

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

“Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low.”

But Dr Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the same news conference: “We do expect more cases.”

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Li Xiaoxiong tells Sky News what it is like having coronavirus

The US has confirmed its first case with no known connection to overseas travel or another known case.

The person lives northeast of San Francisco, and the lack of travel or contact with other infected people has prompted health officials to warn the case may be a sign of “community spread”.

The CDC said in a statement: “It’s possible this could be an instance of community spread of COVID-19.”

Dr Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health and State Public Health Officer, said: “We have been anticipating the potential for such a case in the US, and given our close familial, social and business relationships with China, it is not unexpected that the first case in the US would be in California.”

The other 59 cases in the US had travelled from overseas or been in close contact with those who had.

Brazil has confirmed its first case of coronavirus
Image:Brazil has confirmed its first case of coronavirus

More than 82,000 people have been infected with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by coronavirus, with 2,800 dying as a result.

Most of the casualties have been in China, where the disease originated, but it has steadily spread to every continent except Antarctica.

Coronavirus: How worried should we be?

Special report on coronavirus: How worried should we be?

In the UK, 7132 people have been tested for the virus and 13 have been confirmed as infected. Eight of those have since been discharged from hospital.

At least eight schools have closed, following students returning from Italy, where 400 people have been infected and 12 have died.

Public Health England said its general advice is not to close schools and that staff did not need to be sent home while waiting for test results.

It said most possible cases turn out to be negative.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said guidance had been sent to UK employers telling them staff who are asked to self-isolate are entitled to take sick leave.

Traders work through the closing minutes of trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange floor on February 25, 2020 in New York City

Why is the virus affecting markets so badly?

In other coronavirus developments:

  • Some UK hospitals and other medical sites including GP surgeries will now test flu patients for the coronavirus
  • The government has banned the export of an HIV drug and anti-malaria infection treatment so that they can be tested as potential treatments for COVID-19
  • South Korea has reported 334 more cases, bringing its total to 1,595 – the second-highest number after China
  • The South Korean and US militaries have postponed their annual joint drills out of concerns over the outbreak
  • China reported 433 new cases, 383 in the city of Wuhan, where the disease emerged in December
  • Around 160 British tourists are in lockdown at a Tenerife hotel over coronavirus fears
  • Four pupils at a primary school which Prince George and Princess Charlotte attend are in self-isolation after a trip to northern Italy
  • Markets have been hit, with leisure-related stocks and those exposed to China, such as luxury brands, hurting most

COVID-19 has been fatal in 2% of reported cases, with the elderly and ill the most vulnerable, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The virus can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia and health officials think it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Advice is for people to wash their hands with soap and water and avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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