United States President Donald Trump on Thursday blamed China for not being unable to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, after it originated in the country late last year, reported Bloomberg. “The world is paying a very big price for that they did,” Trump said in a media briefing at the White House.

The US president rued that the disease, which has affected 168 nations, areas or territories so far, could have been stopped if people knew about it. “It could have been stopped right where it came from, China, if we would have known about it, if they would have known about it,” Trump said. “But now the whole world, almost, is inflicted with this horrible virus.”

Trump also said that his administration will continue with its “relentless effort to defeat the Chinese virus”. A close-up image of his statement showed the word “corona” had been scratched out to replace with “Chinese” virus.

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On Wednesday, Trump had refuted claims that his description of COVID-19 as a “Chinese virus” was racist, according to BBC. During this press conference, he had said that efforts to combat the virus was like “a war”. “I view it as a, in a sense, a wartime president,” he said. The American president has been addressing press conferences regularly following reports of him downplaying the severity of COVID-19.

Last week, China and the US had engaged in a war of words over the origin of COVID-19. On March 12, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian had alleged that the US Army may have brought the deadly coronavirus to his country. Zhao’s tweet was accompanied by a video of a US health official saying that some of the people thought to have died of influenza were posthumously diagnosed as having had coronavirus or COVID-19.

Following this, David Stilwell, the top US diplomat for Asia, issued a “stern representation” to Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai over Zhao’s tweet. On March 13, the United States had summoned the Chinese envoy to the country.

The United States has confirmed at least 14,250 cases, and 200 of its citizens have died due to it, according to John Hopkins University, which is live-tracking cases reported by the World Health Organization and additional sources.

In United States, the number of coronavirus deaths has crossed 200 and the total number of infections rose to more than 14,000, reports PTI.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths in Italy outstripped those in China. The toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in the country rose in the last 24 hours by 427 to 3,405. Thursday’s figure represented a slight improvement from the day before, when Italy recorded 475 deaths.

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