President Donald Trump has appealed for calm and put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of America's coronavirus response, insisting the country is "very, very ready" to tackle the deadly disease even if it starts to spread more widely inside the U.S.
Mr. Trump said the risk to Americans remained very low, but his bid to ease nerves — and shore up jittery stock markets in an election year — came as officials confirmed the first case of suspected "community transmission" of the COVID-19 disease in the country: a patient in California with no recent travel history to coronavirus hotspots or known contact with infected people.
The World Health Organization continues to say there's time to rein in the virus that emerged late last year in central China, and is declining to label it a global pandemic. But with cases in more than 40 countries, the WHO chief said it was "deeply concerning" to see the disease spreading fast outside China, most significantly in South Korea, Italy and Iran.
South Korea announced its largest daily jump in confirmed cases on Thursday, with 505 more patients and a 13th death. There were almost 1,800 people infected in South Korea, the largest outbreak to date outside China. With an American service member among those infected, the U.S. has postponed scheduled joint military drills with South Korea and urged Americans to avoid travel to the country.