Donald Trump has said he takes no responsibility for any spike in the number of people misusing disinfectant after suggesting that ingesting it could cure coronavirus.
The US president was responding to a reporter’s question about an increase in “Maryland and other states”, following last week’s comments.
After reportedly receiving more than 100 calls to its hotline, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency had said on Twitter: “This is a reminder that under no circumstances should any disinfectant product be administered into the body through injection, ingestion or any other route.”
ALERT🚨: We have received several calls regarding questions about disinfectant use and #COVID19.
This is a reminder that under no circumstances should any disinfectant product be administered into the body through injection, ingestion or any other route.
— Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MDMEMA) (@MDMEMA) April 24, 2020
On Monday, a reporter asked Mr Trump: “Maryland and other states, Governor Larry Hogan specifically said they’ve seen a spike in people using disinfectant after your comments last week. I know you said they were sarcastic?”
He replied: “I can’t imagine why, I can’t imagine why, yeah.”
When asked if he felt any responsibility, he said: “No, I don’t know. I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine that.”
Mr Trump had said last week that disinfectant and “(ultraviolet) light inside the body” could both be potential solutions to the coronavirus crisis.
He had said about disinfectant: “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…”
Doctors were horrified, dismissing the idea as “irresponsible” and “dangerous”, and companies that produce disinfectant, such as Dettol maker Reckitt Benckiser, felt the need to remind people not to inject or ingest the product.
But on Friday Mr Trump told reporters: “I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen.”
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Mr Trump’s unpredictable performances have increased debate about the usefulness of the US government’s coronavirus briefings, which he has dominated.
The president’s advisers have been trying to get him to scale back his involvement and the White House has said future briefings will focus on the reopening on the economy rather than his theories on what might halt the virus.
COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, has killed more than 56,000 people in the US, with almost one million confirmed cases – around a third of the world’s total, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.