US President Donald Trump was criticised by Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden for decreasing the US oversight of global issues prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus in China. The deadly has seen a mammoth outbreak in China and has spread across several countries in the world, including the US.
Biden also said the Trump had reversed the progress made on global health oversight that came into being during his stint from 2009 to 2017 as the vice president.
"We have, right now, a crisis with the coronavirus," said Biden, who is in Iowa campaigning before the Midwestern farm-state holds Democrats' first nominating contest on Monday. "This is no time for Donald Trump's record of hysteria and xenophobia - hysterical xenophobia - and fearmongering to lead the way instead of science."
Trump spokesperson calls it 'foolish comments'
In particular, he cited "draconian cuts" the White House proposed to the budgets of "the very agencies that we need to fight this outbreak," including the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Matt Wolking, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, responded that Biden had made "foolish comments" as vice president in 2009 about avoiding aeroplanes during a swine flu crisis and "caused a public panic." "In contrast, President Trump is listening to medical and scientific experts and taking every responsible precaution to protect the American people," he said.
Trump administration declares public health emergency
The Trump administration declared a public health emergency on Friday and blocked foreign nationals who have travelled to China from entering the country. They also planned to impose a two-week quarantine on US citizens who have travelled within the past two weeks to China's Hubei Province, the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic.
Still, officials insisted the risk to Americans from the flu-like illness is low. The outbreak has claimed more than 250 lives. None of the U.S. cases have been fatal, and all but one of the patients contracted coronavirus while they were travelling in China.
(With agency inputs)