US President Donald Trump boasted Tuesday that the United States has tested more people for the coronavirus in eight days than South Korea did in eight weeks.
Trump sounded jubilant after Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, shared the statistics during a virtual town hall hosted by Fox News at the White House.
The lack of testing and test kits has added to criticism of the Trump administration's response to the fast-growing pandemic in the country.
"And I didn't even know -- I just heard the number for the first time from Deborah that in a short period of time we've done more testing than South Korea," Trump said.
"You're not going to read that in the newspapers because they don't like to write things like that. But I'd love you to say that one more time because that's a big number," he said, turning to Birx, who confirmed that over the last seven to eight days the US had tested more than 300,000 people for the virus.
As of Tuesday South Korea had tested 348,582 people since the virus was first detected on its soil on Jan. 20. Total infections reached 9,037, including 124 deaths.
The US has reported 44,183 cases and 544 deaths.
Trump claimed that the tests were better in the US.
"It's important to remember we've done more tests in eight days than South Korea has done in eight weeks," he repeated. "And our tests are better. They're highly sophisticated. And frankly, I took one. It's not the most pleasant thing in the world. I will tell you that. We're going to have a much simpler test very soon, but we have a really good test, and we've done more in eight days. Nobody knows that. I just heard this number a few minutes ago."
Earlier this month, Trump downplayed the effectiveness of drive-through testing centers in South Korea before he announced their nationwide introduction days later.
Meanwhile, in a phone call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in earlier Tuesday, Trump asked for South Korea's assistance with medical equipment, according to Moon's office.
The phone call was arranged at Trump's "urgent" request and Moon promised "maximum" assistance depending on availability, Cheong Wa Dae said.
The White House issued a brief release stating that the two leaders discussed their nations' respective efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
"President Trump reiterated his commitment to employ the full weight of the United States Government and work with global leaders to save lives and restore economic growth," White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said. (Yonhap)