COVID-19: Panic breaks out as American lead virus expert missing from White House briefing

WION Web Team Washington, United States Mar 24, 2020, 01.24 PM(IST)

US President Donald Trump standing with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force team Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

For many anxious Americans tuning in from the confinement of their homes, Fauci is a a voice of reason in a time of deep uncertainty.

 

Panic among online users broke out in the United States moments after Donald Trump approached the lectern to open the daily task force briefing on the coronavirus pandemic.

The reason being the absence of the lead virus expert of the White House, Dr Anthony Fauci.

The 79-year-old infectious disease expert who has become a regular fixture was a calming presence alongside the president and his absence escalated online debate and rumours and speculations started circulating online after his absence was noticed.

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For many anxious Americans tuning in from the confinement of their homes, Fauci is a a voice of reason in a time of deep uncertainty.

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And his absence at yet another briefing raised was cause for concern. 

Also read: China to lift travel restrictions on Hubei province, including Wuhan

When asked about his absence by a reporter, Trump said that ''I was just with him'' and explained that Fauci was ''at a task force meeting''.

Later on, a White House official confirmed Fauci’s attendance at earlier meetings that day and insisted his absence was in keeping with a commitment to rotate speakers ''depending on the news of the day''.

Fauci himself attempted to allay concerns about his current status, both professionally and physiologically. 

''To my knowledge, I'm not coronavirus-infected,” he said.

Fauci, who has served six US presidents, said he is working with the members of the task force to ensure Trump shares accurate information from the podium about the coronavirus, but admitted that it can be a difficult task.