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New York governor says coronavirus spread 'inevitable'

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Andrew Cuomo said it was "inevitable" more people in the city would test positive for the deadly virus after its first confirmed case was detected in a health care worker who had visited Iran.

[NEW YORK] New York's governor warned on Monday the coronavirus would spread in the global financial hub as President Donald Trump prepared to meet pharmaceutical executives on the response to the outbreak that has claimed two lives in America.

Andrew Cuomo said it was "inevitable" more people in the city would test positive for the deadly virus after its first confirmed case was detected in a health care worker who had visited Iran.

"There is no doubt that there will be more cases. This is New York, we're a gateway to the world," Mr Cuomo told reporters.

"People are going to test positive, not just one or two or three or five, there will be many who test positive," he added.

Mr Cuomo said the 39-year-old woman who tested positive at the weekend had mild symptoms and was recovering at home.

He added that the Manhattan resident had been "very aware of her situation" and had taken a private car to her home from the airport on Tuesday.

"She did textbook everything right. We don't believe she was contagious on the airplane or in the car," he said.

Mr Cuomo added that she was isolated at home with her husband who is also expected to test positive for coronavirus.

'PROGRESS BEING MADE' 

Some of those are believed to be the result of its spreading within communities, as opposed to infections contracted overseas or from persons who had recently traveled to foreign hot spots.

While Mr Cuomo said New York's first case was not itself a cause for broader concern, he announced US$40 million to contain the spread of the virus and a target of testing 1,000 New Yorkers a day.

He said cleaning of public places will be increased and added that the city was used to dealing with health crises, citing Ebola and Sars.

Mr Cuomo said residents should not worry, adding: "In this situation the facts defeat fear because the reality is reassuring."

His news conference came shortly after Mr Trump announced on Twitter that he would meet with leading pharmaceutical companies at the White House on Monday "about progress on a vaccine and cure."

The meeting is due to take place at 3.00pm (2000 GMT).

"Progress being made!" Mr Trump tweeted.

Also on Monday, the United States' leading public health spokesman warned that wearing a face mask could actually increase the risk of infection.

"Folks who don't know how to wear them properly tend to touch their faces a lot and actually can increase the spread of coronavirus," US Surgeon General Jerome Adams told Fox News.

Globally, more than 3,000 people have died as a result of the virus, which has now infected nearly 90,000 people with cases in over 60 countries.

AFP