United States President Donald Trump on Saturday told his supporters at an election rally in Oklahoma that he had asked health officials to reduce coronavirus testing since they were a “double-edged sword”, Reuters reported. Trump’s statement contradicts health experts across the world, who consider increased testing to be an important tool in fighting the disease.

Trump said that 25 million people in the US had been tested for the coronavirus so far, a number he claimed to be higher than other countries. “When you do testing to that extent, you’re gonna find more people and you’re gonna find more cases,” Trump said at his rally . “So I said to my people slow the testing down, please.”

An unidentified White House official told the news agency that Trump’s comment was a joke. “He was obviously kidding,” the official said. “We are leading the world in testing and have conducted 25 million + in testing.”

Follow today’s live updates on the coronavirus pandemic.

The event in Oklahoma was Trump’s first major election rally in three months. The rally went ahead as planned even though six members of the team working on the event tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday, according to CNN. The White House had claimed that 1 lakh people would turn up for the event but less than 19,000 came, according to AFP.

At the rally, Trump praised his own efforts to control the outbreak. “I have done a phenomenal job with it!” he said. The president also claimed that his measures to stop travellers from China and Europe had helped save “hundreds of thousands of lives” and blamed the media for not giving him enough credit.

US is the world’s most-affected country with 22,54,855 coronavirus cases and 1,19,719 deaths. Across the world, the coronavirus has infected more than 87 lakh people and claimed 4,64,039 lives, according to the Johns Hopkins University. Over 43 lakh people have recovered.