THE UNITED STATES now has the most confirmed cases of coronavirus in the world, becoming the official epicentre of the disease.
On Thursday, the country's death toll climbed above 1,200, with 85,500 total cases reported - more than China and Italy's figures (81,782 and 80,589 respectively).
Despite the unwelcome news, President Donald Trump insisted that the high numbers were as a result of rigorous and successful testing, rather than any lax efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
"It's a tribute to the amount of testing that we're doing," Trump told reporters during a press conference yesterday.
"We're doing tremendous testing, and I'm sure you're not able to tell what China is testing or not testing. I think that's a little hard.
"You don't know what the numbers are in China."
Trump later spoke to the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and had what he described on Twitter as a "very good conversation".
The two leaders discussed the coronavirus in "great detail", adding that: "China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!"
Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020
While America has more cases of Covid-19 than any other nation, the number of deaths are significantly lower than the figures coming out of Italy and China.
In the US, there have been just under 1,300 coronavirus-related fatalities. China has had over 3,000, while Italy has experienced over 8,000.
While the US has increased its testing capacity in recents days the process has been flawed and incoherent, and the country still lags behind leaders such as South Korea in terms of the number of tests administered per-capita.
The President has been widely condemned for his reserved approach in tackling the pandemic, and many have accused him of not acting fast enough and misjudging public demand to contain the spread at all costs.
He later reiterated his stance that the country must get back to work quickly and set a goal of April 12 to have the US back on its feet again.
"[American people] have to go to back to work, our country has to go back, our country is based on that and I think it's going to happen pretty quickly.
"We may take section of our country, we may take large sections of our country that aren't so seriously affected and we may do it that way.
"A lot of people misinterpret when I say 'go back'. They're going to be practicing as much as you can social distancing, and washing your hands and not shaking hands and all of the things we talked about," he added.