US president Donald Trump has denied responsibility for a recent increase in US hotline calls about injecting or ingesting disinfectant, following his remarks last week that such substances could be used to treat coronavirus.
Trump said that he “can’t imagine why” the volume of such calls to US emergency hotline had spiked in the wake of his comments, adding that he had made them sarcastically.
He said: "I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen."
The original comments were made by the president on Thursday, after US research had suggested that bleach could kill the Covid-19 virus within a matter of minutes.
Trump had said: "I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute.
"And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?"
The state governors of Michigan and Maryland criticised Trump for the increase in emergency hotline calls seeking clarity on his comments, while health professionals condemned the remarks, for suggesting that hazardous substances could be injected or consumed.
Maryland’s emergency hotline in particular had received hundreds of calls concerning the comments, with the governor’s office issuing a statewide alert to warn individuals against ingesting and injecting disinfectants.
When asked by the media during Monday's White House coronavirus briefing whether he took responsibility for the increase in such calls, Trump simply said: “No, I don’t”.
Trump also suggested that the US could seek compensation from China for the spread of Covid-19, after the state of Missouri announced that it would sue the Chinese government.
Trump said: “We believe it could have been stopped at the source”.
In spite of contrary speculation, Trump also confirmed that he was not planning to push back November’s presidential election even though the Covid-19 pandemic had brought a halt to some state primary contests.
He dismissed the idea as "made-up propaganda", adding: “I never even thought of changing the date of the election. Why would I do that?
“I look forward to that election”.
Joe Biden, former US vice-president under the Obama administration, is the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination and had suggested that Trump would “try to kick back the election”.