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COVID-19: ‘Nice offer’, says Trump praising Putin’s medical supplies proposal; disbands ‘propaganda’

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has said his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin extended a “very nice offer” to him by providing America with medical supplies and equipment to combat the deadly coronavirus, brushing aside a warning that it would result in Kremlin “propaganda”.

Putin offered the medical assistance during the two world leaders’ telephonic conversation on March 30.

The US agreed to buy from Russia ventilators, medical supplies and other personal protection equipment needed to treat patients infected with COVID-19, a top State Department Spokesperson said on Wednesday.

“It was a very nice gesture on behalf of President Putin. I could’ve said no thank you or I could have said thank you.

“It was a large plane of very high quality medical supplies, and I said I’ll take it,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday when asked about the supplies from Russia.

Trump was asked would it result in Kremlin propaganda.

“No, I’m not concerned about Russian propaganda, not even a little bit. He offered a lot of medical high-quality stuff that I accepted. That may save a lot of lives. I’ll take it every day,” he responded.

“We’re accepting it. It was a very nice offer from President Putin. I spoke to him the other night. And they had excess medical equipment, things, and I’ll take it. I’ll take it,” he said.

Trump said the US had received aid from China and other countries as well.

“We also help other countries. We like doing that. Like I said before, if we have excess stuff, we let it go out. We let some go out where, frankly, they had orders for it and I didn’t want to stop orders,” he said.

President Trump told reporters on Tuesday that the US was headed for a “very tough two weeks”, advising people to be prepared for the “hard days” ahead, as the country is at war with the deadly coronavirus pandemic that the White House projects could claim one to two lakh lives during the next fortnight.

Deborah Bix, a member of White House Task Force on coronavirus, based on a model from actual data from the ground, said the death toll in the US could be between 100,000 to 200,000, with the strict implementation of the existing mitigation measures including social distancing till April 30.

Across the United States, hospitals are facing shortages of ventilators.

Some medical device makers have agreed to ramp up supplies.

But because patients diagnosed with or suspected to have COVID-19 often require breathing support, there is widespread concern that these devices won’t be developed and shipped quickly enough.

A total of 1,002,159 COVID-19 cases have been reported across more than 175 countries and territories with51,485 deaths reported so far, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The US has reported 236,339 COVID-19 cases, the highest in the world, and over 5,000 people have died due to the disease.