US President Donald Trump on Thursday said that he will speak with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping by phone as the United States overtook China as the country with the most coronavirus cases.
During a press briefing, Trump said he would be speaking to Xi at 9:00 pm (0100 GMT Friday).
With 82,404 cases of infection, the United States has now surpassed virus hotspots China and Italy, according to a tracker run by Johns Hopkins University.
However Trump cast doubt on this, saying “you don’t know what the numbers are in China.”
Trump said he and Xi would be discussing the global pandemic and insisted they have a “very good relationship.”
“We are waging war on this virus using every financial, scientific, medical, pharmaceutical and military resource, to halt its spread and protect our citizens,” the US president added.
With about 40 percent of Americans under lockdown orders, Trump urged citizens to do their part by practicing social distancing: “Stay home. Just relax, stay home.”
Aside from coronavirus and the massive economic fallout resulting from mass social distancing strategies around the world, Trump and Xi are likely to discuss plans to negotiate a new trade agreement between the world’s two biggest economies.
More than 500,000 people around the world have now contracted the new coronavirus.
Earlier this week, Trump announced that he wants to loosen the coronavirus lockdown in the country and restart the economy within three weeks, calling social distancing measures too disruptive.
On Monday, Trump signed an executive order prohibiting price gouging and hoarding of medical supplies deemed critical amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Earlier, Trump had advised people not to gather in groups of more than 10, one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended no gatherings with 50 people or more for the next eight weeks.
Last week, the US leader announced a national state of emergency, freeing up $50 billion in federal funds for the battle against the coronavirus pandemic as he vowed to “vastly” ramp up testing capacity.
The pandemic has already, and rapidly, been catastrophic to the global economy.
China said it was barring entry to most foreigners, fearing that imported cases were undermining its success in bringing domestic transmissions way down.
(With inputs from agency)