President Trump on Friday praised Chinese premier Xi Jinping for the country’s handling of the novel coronavirus outbreak as the death toll from the epidemic topped 600.
“Just had a long and very good conversation by phone with President Xi of China. He is strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the Coronavirus,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Great discipline is taking place in China, as President Xi strongly leads what will be a very successful operation. We are working closely with China to help!”
While Xi did not thank the president during the call, the Chinese leader aimed to reassure Trump that the outbreak was under control.
“We are fully confident and capable of defeating the epidemic,” Xi said. As of Friday, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in China had risen to 31,161, with 636 deaths.
China has adopted draconian measures to stop the spread of the illness. In some large cities citizens are allowed to leave their homes only once every two days, and public gatherings such as weddings and funerals are banned. There have been cases in which local authorities have padlocked citizens inside their homes to implement quarantine measures.
The Trump administration has banned foreign nationals who have recently visited China from entering the U.S., and has mandated 14-day quarantines for any U.S. citizen or their family returning from Hubei province, the center of the outbreak.
On Monday the Chinese foreign ministry said the U.S. had “unceasingly manufactured and spread panic” regarding the coronavirus.