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Trump pins blame on Obama for coronavirus diagnosis delays

US President Donald Trump has blamed his predecessor for the slow coronavirus testing process in the country, saying former President Barack Obama “made changes that only complicated things further.”

Trump blamed Obama on Friday as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has come under fire over the past few days following the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

Instead of using the World Health Organization’s test kit for the disease, which is commended as highly effective and reliable across the world, the CDC has embarked on making its own test and that has slowed its response due to delays in diagnosing patients, not to mention qualms about its effectiveness.

“For decades the @CDCgov looked at, and studied, its testing system, but did nothing about it,” Trump tweeted.

“It would always be inadequate and slow for a large scale pandemic, but a pandemic would never happen, they hoped,” he added. “President Obama made changes that only complicated things further.”

Trump also lashed out at the former president in a follow-up tweet, saying the Obama administration’s response to the Swine flu H1N1 virus “was a full scale disaster, with thousands dying, and nothing meaningful done to fix the testing problem, until now.”

In an interview with Fox News on March 4, Trump targeted Obama for his handling of the H1N1 outbreak, claiming that the Obama-era White House “didn’t do anything about it.”

The Obama administration issued two national emergency declarations during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.

The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a new respiratory disease that emerged in China last December and has spread around the world, halting industries, bringing travel to a standstill, closing schools, and forcing the cancellation of public events.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday declared COVID-19 a pandemic, pointing to over 118,000 cases of the coronavirus illness in over 110 countries and territories around the world and the sustained risk of further global spread. More than 137,000 people have been infected by the virus in 131 countries and territories and over 5,000 have died, the vast majority of them in China, according to a Reuters tally.

In the US, there have been over 1,700 cases of COVID-19 and at least 40 deaths. Dozens of states and Washington, DC., have issued emergency declarations and several states have canceled schools for the coming weeks.

US health experts have criticized the Trump administration for downplaying the epidemic and lagging behind in testing efforts, making it difficult to gauge the full scale of outbreaks in the United States and curtail transmission of the virus.