US President Donald Trump as US vice-president Mike Pence makes a statement after a meeting about Covid-19 at the White House, March 10 2020. Picture: AFP/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI
US President Donald Trump as US vice-president Mike Pence makes a statement after a meeting about Covid-19 at the White House, March 10 2020. Picture: AFP/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI

Washington — US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that his administration will provide assistance to cruise lines and airlines as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, without offering any details.

“We’re going to be helping that industry,” he said of cruise lines. Speaking of the airlines, he said: “We’ll be helping them through this patch.”

Trump spoke at the White House during a meeting with insurance executives.

There are more than 700 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US, and 27 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Most of the fatalities have been in Washington state.

With his appearance at the meeting, Trump is seeking to show he’s leading an effective virus response as the number of cases continues to rise, markets crater and Democrats criticise him.

The meeting had been on vice-president Mike Pence’s public schedule, not Trump’s.

Trump plans to announce “substantial” economic measures on Tuesday to combat the fallout from the coronavirus, yet uncertainty about the details led early gains on Wall Street to fade. Trump said his economic measures could include a payroll tax cut and paid sick leave.

The president is expected to join Republican senators at a weekly lunch on Capitol Hill later on Tuesday, according to a person familiar.

With Laura Litvan

Bloomberg