US President Donald Trump announced a news conference from the White House on the coronavirus epidemic Wednesday, with experts warning they expect it to spread in the United States.

Taking to the Twitter, President Trump said, “I will be having a News Conference at the White House, on this subject, today at 6:00 P.M.”

Trump added that officials from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would attend.

Authorities have urged Americans to develop plans to avoid mass gatherings amid dire warnings that countries are not ready to contain an outbreak that has infected 80,000 people, mostly in China.

On Monday, the White House sent a request to Congress to make at least $2.5 billion in funding available for preparedness and response, including developing treatments and vaccines and buying equipment for a strategic national stockpile.

But Trump has not appointed a point person or task force on the crisis, while the global health security expert position on the National Security Council has been left vacant for almost two years.

Addressing Trump directly, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer tweeted, “It was incompetent and dangerous that: You reduced our ability to prevent epidemics. You proposed cuts to CDC funding.

The deadly coronavirus toll in China increased to 2,744 with 78,497 confirmed cases, a Chinese health expert on Thursday said that the coronavirus outbreak would be “basically under control” in the country by the end of April.

After China, South Korea has emerged as the biggest centre of Coronavirus with 161 more reported coronavirus cases on Monday, taking the nationwide total to 763.  The country has seen a rapid surge in the number of coronavirus cases, adding more than 700 cases in less than a week, since a cluster of infections emerged from a religious sect in the southern city of Daegu.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sunday raised the country’s virus alert to the highest “red” level, in a bid to strengthen the government response to the spiralling outbreak. The government has extended kindergarten and school holidays by one week nationwide and plans to enforce tighter two-week monitoring of arrivals from China.

South Korean airlines have also suspended or plan to halt flights to Daegu, Yonhap news agency says Korean Air Lines Co, the country’s biggest airline, cancelled its flights to Daegu from the southern resort island of Jeju and Incheon on Sunday.

Hong Kong has confirmed the virus in 62 patients, two of whom have died. The first infections were largely found within people who had travelled to the epicentre in China’s central Hubei province.

Thailand, which has imposed no such restrictions, reported a 90 per cent slump in arrivals from the mainland this month, a gut punch to an already beleaguered tourist sector which makes up nearly a fifth of the economy.

In 2003, 299 Hong Kongers were killed by an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) — 40 per cent of the global total fatalities.

Hubei Province, a centre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, reported 411 new confirmed cases and 115 new deaths on Thursday, according to the provincial health commission on Friday.

The novel Coronavirus outbreak has caused alarm as it has crossed global fatalities in the 2002-03 SARS epidemic.

(With inputs from agency)