Trump Says U.S. Working With China to Combat Coronavirus Outbreak: 'Hopefully It's All Going to Be Great'

President Donald Trump has told his supporters the U.S. is co-operating with the government in Beijing to contain the new strain of coronavirus.

With the official death toll standing at more than 200 in China, and having spread to at least 18 other countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a global emergency.

During a "Keep America Great" rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Trump spoke generally about relations with Beijing and reiterated his praise for the "phase one" trade deal the U.S. had signed with China, which he said would benefit farmers in the state.

Trump said that ahead of the deal, he had asked agriculture secretary Sonny Purdue "what is the biggest number that China has ever done with the farmers? He said, 'sir $16 billion'.

"They targeted you. Now we're friends with China. Maybe we have never had a better relationship," Trump said, before segueing into the outbreak, saying "we're working with them very closely on the coronavirus.

"We only have five people," Trump said, referring to the confirmed infections in the U.S.

"Hopefully everything's going be great. They have somewhat of a problem but hopefully it's all going to be great.

"But we are working with China, just so you know, and other countries, very, very closely so it doesn't get out of hand. It is something we have to be very careful with," Trump told the crowd to cheers at the Drake Arena on Thursday night.

Earlier, Trump tweeted he had received a coronavirus briefing in China from the government agencies "who are also working closely with China."

The White House announced on Wednesday the Trump administration had set up a task force to "monitor, contain, and mitigate the spread of the virus," as well as give Americans health and travel information about the coronavirus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has issued a warning, recommending against all non-essential travel to China. The State Department has issued a level four warning against travel to China, advising on its website "do not travel to China due to novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China."

 President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a "Keep America Great" campaign rally at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, January 30, 2020. He told the rally that the U.S. was working with China to combat the coronavirus. SAUL LOEB/Getty Images

Meanwhile, the U.S. commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said that the coronavirus could be a boon for the American economy.

Ross was asked on Fox Business News what impact the outbreak might have on trade.

He said: "I don't want to talk about a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease."

He went on to say: "The fact is, it does give businesses yet another thing to consider when they go through their review of their supply chain... So I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America."

The comment sparked criticism from some Democrats, while Simon Baptist from the Economist Intelligence Unit in Singapore told the BBC that the virus would probably have a negative impact on the U.S.

"China is still a big market for the U.S., so if the Chinese economy slows significantly that's going to have a blowback effect on the US as well," he said.

The following graph from Statista lists the countries with confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Coronavirus Jan 30
Confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of January 30. Statista

This story has been updated to include a graph from Statista.