WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has said the coronavirus pandemic is a worse “attack” on the United States than either Pearl Harbor or 9/11, taking aim once again at China, which he said should have stopped the disease in its tracks.
The president has ramped up his rhetoric against Beijing in recent weeks, as the death toll in the US has continued to climb, and as he agitates to re-open the shuttered – and stuttering – economy.
While some European and Asian nations have started easing lockdowns, experts have warned that despite the economic pain, social distancing measures remain necessary until a vaccine is developed.
Globally the virus has infected 3.7 million people and killed more than 260,000 – a quarter of them in the US.
“It should have never happened,” Trump said of the disease that emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last year.
“Could have been stopped at the source. Could have been stopped in China.”
“This is really the worst attack we’ve ever had,” Trump told reporters. “This is worse than Pearl Harbor. This is worse than the World Trade Center.”
So far, more than 73,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, and Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, predicted the US toll could top 100,000 by the end of May.