Trump says not to panic after first coronavirus death on US soil

US President Donald Trump says there is "no reason to panic" over the novel coronavirus (AFP Photo/Roberto SCHMIDT)

Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump said Saturday that despite the first death on US soil from the new coronavirus, the threat to Americans remained low and there was no reason for "panic."

Trump confirmed that the first fatality, announced by officials in Washington state, was a woman in her late 50s. She lived in King county, which includes Seattle, local officials said.

"Additional cases in the United States are likely," Trump told a White House news conference, adding that "healthy individuals should be able to fully recover."

"Our country is prepared for any circumstance," Trump insisted, calling on "the media and politicians and everybody else involved not to do anything to incite panic."

The Republican leader and other officials also announced a more complete ban on travel from Iran, which has seen a rapid spread of the disease, and encouraged Americans to avoid travel to hard-hit areas in Italy and South Korea.

Vice President Mike Pence, charged by Trump to lead efforts against the virus, said that an existing ban on travel from Iran had been expanded to include any foreign national who has visited the Islamic republic within the last 14 days.

Trump said he would meet with leaders of big pharmaceutical groups at the White House on Monday to discuss treatments and efforts to develop a vaccine to combat the virus.