WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump unleashed a barrage of tweets on Monday about the coronavirus outbreak and promoted an article suggesting that a miracle cure to this deadly respiratory disease was at hand.
The tweets — backing conspiracy theories and claims — reflect the anxieties of a world still struggling to form a comprehensive policy to cope with this unprecedented threat.
“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” Mr Trump wrote in an all caps tweet posted near midnight. “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”
Last week, the White House urged Americans to stay home for the next 15 days to prevent the spread of this virus, which is also known as Covid-19.
Mr Trump then retweeted a post from a man named Chuck Callesto — identified as a digital real estate manager. “They should take a SERIOUS LOOK at this...” Mr Callesto wrote in the tweet posted on the president’s wall. He also provided a link to a story with the headline “REPORT: French Doctor Reports 100 % Cure Rate Using Malaria Drug to Treat Corona Virus.”
The US media immediately picked up Mr Trump’s message, criticising him for promoting an untested cure. The media pointed out that so far there’s no known cure or treatment for coronavirus. It also reminded the president that encouraging an untested cure would help scammers trying to cash in on the panic the outbreak has caused.
Unperturbed by the criticism, Mr Trump retweeted a tabloid story on Monday afternoon, claiming that “a Florida man diagnosed with coronavirus claims he was saved from certain death by an anti-malaria drug touted as a possible treatment by President Trump.”
Mr Trump also added his own comment to the story, saying: “A great early result from a drug that will start tomorrow in New York and other places!”
In more than a dozen tweets and retweets that started near midnight, the president also signaled his anxiety about the pandemic’s economic toll and suggested that he could ease up some of the restrictions placed last week.
He also hinted that he would support the decision of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over whether to cancel the Tokyo Olympics. Physicians and health officials are urging Japan to postpone the Olympics, slated to begin on July 24. Tokyo indicated earlier this week that it wants to hold the event as scheduled. Australia and Canada have already announced that they will not send their teams to the summer games.
In one of the tweets, Mr Trump wrote he was against releasing inmates from crowded jails to avoid infections. Several American states have announced plans to release low-level offenders and the elderly as a public health precaution.
In some tweets, President Trump also criticized China for allegedly manipulating health data and the World Health Organisation (WHO) for supporting China’s claims.
He retweeted a link sent by his son, Donald Trump Jr., to a story in the conservative media outlet Breitbart News with the headline “WHO Spread False Chinese Government Propaganda: Coronavirus Not Contagious Among Humans.
Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2020