With 81,943 Americans now testing positive for Covid-19, the US has overtaken China to become the country with the largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world.
State-by-state figures published late on Thursday showed confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US had overtaken the 81,285 cases reported by China, with the biggest outbreaks in New York, New Jersey and California.
A total of 1,177 Americans have died from the rapidly-spreading virus.
Donald Trump, the US President, said the figures were a “tribute to our testing” and that he would speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping later on Thursday.
“Number one, you don’t know what the numbers are in China,” Mr. Trump said at a White House press conference. “We are testing tremendous numbers of people.”
The US overtook China on the same day Beijing said it was temporarily suspending visits from almost all foreign nationals — a marked reversal to policies implemented in the US and Europe in January to limit travellers coming from the Asian country.
China, where the global outbreak first began, does not include positive tests from people who did not exhibit symptoms in its totals, casting doubt on the data.
There are now 523,163 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Beijing’s decision to block arrivals by foreign nationals, announced by China’s foreign ministry on Thursday, will prevent entry by almost all holders of visas and residence permits starting from Saturday.
A small number of diplomatic visa holders would be exempt, the ministry said. In its announcement, the ministry said it had “no alternative” to the new restriction given the mixed response to the pandemic in other countries. It did not mention which countries it believed were at fault.
Meanwhile, the United States government has about 1.5 million N95 respirator masks stored inside an Indianapolis warehouse that are past their expiration date, but it has no plans to offer them to hospitals in desperate need of them.
The masks are part of an emergency stockpile kept by the US Customs and Border Protection.
Instead of offering the masks to hospitals, which are in desperate need of personal protective equipment due to the influx of patients with coronavirus, CBP instead decided to offer them to the Transportation Security Administration.
Sources familiar with a conference call held on Wednesday by CBP officials told The Washington Post that the agency had no plans to offer them to medical officials or to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).