Germany triggers huge row with US as minister attacks Trump’s ‘slow’ coronavirus response

In the latest signs of simmering tensions between the two allies as they respond to the coronavirus crisis, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said America “played down” the impact of COVID-19 for “a long time”. Mr Maas said China took “very authoritarian measures, while in the US, the virus was played down for a long time”.

Speaking to Der Spiegel magazine, he warned the US’ “America First” model and aggressive trade policies could hurt the nation in its attempts to get protective equipment to fight against coronavirus.

He said: “These are two extremes, neither of which can be a model for Europe.”

Germany was one of the countries that last week accused the US of “Wild West” tactics in outbidding or blocking shipments to buyers who had already signed deals for vital medical supplies.


Mr Mass said he hoped the US would rethink its international relationships in light of the coronavirus crisis.

He said: “Let’s see to what extent the actions of the American government will lead to discussions in the US about whether the ‘America First’ model really works.”

A spokesman for the US embassy in Berlin declined to comment.

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Germany’s attack comes after Mr Trump faced criticism from experts for being slow and ineffective in his response to the crisis and playing down the threat.

But the firebrand leader hit back accusing the World Health Organisation of being too focused on China and issuing bad advice during the outbreak.

He also threatened to put a hold on its funding for the organisation.

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US coronavirus deaths topped 16,400 on Thursday, as officials warned Americans to expect alarming numbers of coronavirus deaths this week.

This is despite evidence suggesting that the number of new infections was flattening in New York state, the epicentre of the US outbreak.

US deaths, the second highest in the world, set new daily records on Tuesday and Wednesday with over 1,900 new deaths reported each day.

Cases in America topped 459,000 on Thursday, up 27,000 from the prior day.

Today President Trump said the funding measure to help small business should be approved by Congress with no additions. 

Republicans sought quick Senate passage of a small-business measure sought by Trump’s administration on Thursday but ran into opposition from Democrats who wanted to add provisions such as funds for hospitals, local governments and food assistance.

Democrats then tried to move their own measure, only to see it rejected by Republicans.

Mr Trump blamed Democrats for the impasse over the funding, designed to help small businesses keep paying workers.

He tweeted: “It should be for only that reason, with no additions. We should have a big Infrastructure Phase Four with Payroll Tax Cuts & more. Big Economic Bounceback!”

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