Donald Trump plays down coronavirus in White House briefing

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Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC Principal Deputy Director, advised individuals to cover their coughs, stay home if they are sick and wash their hands. One is in the hospital.

"I think the financial markets are very upset when they look at the Democratic candidates standing on stage making fools of themselves", he said.

The President said most of the Americans now infected with coronavirus were improving, and that they were being well taken care of.

In addition, 40 Americans who tested positive on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was docked in Japan have been repatriated, and three repatriated from China. On Wednesday, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Trump was "right" to advise people to take preventive measures against the coronavirus similar to those against the flu, but he added COVID-19 is not influenza and with the right measures it can be contained.

But Trump shocked several people when he announced that Vice President Mike Pence would coordinate the administration's response, especially given Pence is heavily involved in Trump's reelection campaign.

However he said he was prepared to boost funding to tackle the spread of the virus funds to "whatever's appropriate", following criticism of current funding levels from Congress.

Chinese security guards wear protective masks as they stand on an empty commercial street in Beijing, China, on February 25, 2020. "Ebola, we did $5 billion", she said. "Hopefully, we won't have to spend so much".

Trump tapped Pence to lead the coronavirus response over Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar Wednesday after Azar had said the same day that he was in charge of the response.

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"I know full well the importance of presidential leadership...and the vital role of partnerships of state and local governments, (as well as) health authorities, in responding to the potential threat of risky, infectious diseases", stated the vice president.

What we're hearing: Sources familiar with the decision tell Axios that the call to put Vice President Mike Pence in charge was made just yesterday. Some experts predict the virus could infect 40% to 70% of the world's adult population.

Until now, federal health authorities have been preparing for the coronavirus' arrival in the USA with little if any White House interference.

At the White House, Trump said he was not ready to institute new travel restrictions for countries such as South Korea and Italy that are dealing with outbreaks - although he could not rule it out.

"I will be having a News Conference at the White House, on this subject, today at 6:00 P.M. CDC representatives, and others, will be there".

But the number of new coronavirus infections inside China has for the first time been overtaken by fresh cases elsewhere, with Italy and Iran emerging as new epicentres of the rapidly spreading illness.

"As more and more countries experience community spread, successful containment at our borders becomes harder and harder", Dr. Nancy Messonnier told reporters.

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