Coronavirus: Obama says US response a 'chaotic disaster'

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Barack Obama, speaking here at an event in 2019, was president of the US from 2009 to 2017Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Barack Obama was president of the US from 2009 to 2017

Former US President Barack Obama has strongly criticised his successor Donald Trump over his response to the coronavirus crisis.

In a private conference call, he called the US handling of the pandemic "an absolute chaotic disaster".

The White House said in response that President Trump's "unprecedented" action had "saved Americans' lives".

During the call, Mr Obama said his Republican successor's approach to government was partly to blame for the US response to coronavirus.

"It would have been bad even with the best of government," he was quoted as saying in the call. "It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset of 'what's in it for me' and 'to heck with everybody else', when that mindset is operationalised in our government."

Mr Obama also strongly criticised the decision to drop criminal charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

What is the coronavirus situation in the US?

Nearly 80,000 people have now died and the US more than 1.3m confirmed cases - both by far the highest in the world.

Many states introduced lockdown measures in March but have now lifted restrictions, allowing people to return to work.

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What Trump voters think of his handling of the virus outbreak

But health officials warn this may lead the virus to spread further.

Mr Trump's approach to the pandemic has oscillated. In February he dismissed the threat, saying it would disappear, but by mid-March he acknowledged its severity.

In April he suggested that injecting disinfectant could be a treatment - something experts immediately rejected.

Last week he announced he would close down his government's coronavirus task force, but later said it would continue - but focusing on reopening the economy.

Correction 28 May 2020: An earlier version of this article inaccurately described President Trump as having previously suggested that ingesting disinfectant could be a treatment for coronavirus. This has been amended to make clear that he referred to injecting disinfectant.