US records 12,722 COVID-19 deaths; close to 2,000 fatalities in last 24 hours

US President Donald Trump.

Nearly 2,000 people infected with the new coronavirus have died in the United States in the last 24 hours, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University as of 8:30 pm Tuesday (0030 GMT Wednesday).

The record daily figure of 1,939 brings the total number of deaths in the US to 12,722. This is approaching tolls in the worst-hit countries so far—Italy with 17,127 dead and Spain with 13,798.

President Donald Trump has defended his response to the crisis, and on Tuesday he blamed the World Health Organization (WHO) for reacting slowly.

He questioned why the WHO had given “such a faulty recommendation”, apparently referring to the UN body’s advice against curtailing international travel to stop the virus which first spread from China.

“They called it wrong. They really missed the call. They could have called it months earlier,” he said.

Trump has been widely criticized for initially downplaying the virus, which he likened to an ordinary flu and said was under control in the United States, before later accepting that it was a national emergency.