US President Donald Trump has lashed out at Democrats who've questioned his handling of the coronavirus threat, calling it their new "hoax".
Trump was holding a campaign rally in South Carolina, to steal some of the spotlight from his Democratic rivals a day before voters cast their ballots in the state's presidential primary.
Trump accused Democrats of "politicising" the coronavirus and boasted about preventive steps he's ordered to keep the virus from spreading across the United States.
Just before Trump began to speak, health officials confirmed a second case of coronavirus in the US in a person who hadn't travelled internationally or come in close contact with anyone who had it. The president did not mention that news.
"They tried the impeachment hoax ... this is their new hoax," Trump said of Democrats and coronavirus.
Some Democrats have said Trump could have acted sooner to bolster the US response to the virus. Trump argues that the steps he's taken so far have kept cases to minimum in the US and led to no deaths from the virus.
"A virus that starts in China, bleeds its way into various countries all around the world, doesn't spread widely at all in the United States because of the early actions that myself and my administration took, against a lot of other wishes, and the Democrats' single talking point ... is that it's Donald Trump's fault," the president said.
Following Saturday's contest, more than a dozen states vote next week in Super Tuesday contests.
Trump arrived in South Carolina at the end of a brutal week for the stock market. Stocks sank again Friday after another wild day on Wall Street, extending a rout that handed the market its worst week since October 2008, at the height of the financial crisis.
Trump has linked his presidency to the markets through tweets and speeches often taking credit for each new high in the markets. Now, Trump is trying to reassure Americans the economy is still strong while also theorising that the Democratic candidates' debate performances have spooked investors.
The virus has infected 83,000 people globally and caused about 2,800 deaths.
Australian Associated Press