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Obama: Trump’s Handling of Pandemic Is ‘Absolute Chaotic Disaster’ 

Former U.S. President Barack Obama gesture as he attends the "values-based leadership" during a plenary session of the Gathering of Rising Leaders in the Asia Pacific, organized by the Obama Foundation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, Dec. 13,…

US Continues to lead the world in coronavirus cases.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama says current U.S. President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been “an absolute chaotic disaster.”

In a conference call with former staff members, Obama said, “It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’ — when that mindset is operationalized in our government.”

The U.S. leads the world in the number of cases and deaths from the virus. More than 1.3 million people in the U.S. have been infected and nearly 80,000 people have died.

In New York, the U.S. epicenter of the outbreak, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that three children have died and more than 70 other children have fallen ill from a syndrome associated with the virus.

Children were initially thought not to be as susceptible to the virus, but reports are beginning to emerge challenging that.

Like other countries, the U.S. does not have adequate supplies of test kits, meaning the sickest people get tested before those with mild symptoms, raising the possibility those with mild or no symptoms may not get tested at all and go uncounted.

Pushing to reopen the U.S. from measures meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus, President Donald Trump has recently touted the U.S. testing system. But the system has been criticized for failures in the critical early weeks of the outbreak and its ongoing underperformance compared to some other countries.

During a recent meeting with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Trump said Germany has a “very low mortality rate like we do.” In fact, the U.S. has reported COVID-19 deaths at a rate of 234 per 1 million people, compared to Germany’s reported rate of 90 fatalities per million.

On Friday, Trump insisted “testing isn’t necessary,” an indication of his increasing tendency to reject the advice of health experts.

The Trump administration continues to defend its decision not to release a detailed coronavirus reopening plan for the U.S., maintaining it would have been too narrowly focused for the country’s 50 states.

Germany is grappling with new outbreaks since it began easing restrictions. The Robert Koch Institute said Sunday the infection rate had gone up to 1.1. The infection rate, known as the reproduction rate, is growing when the rate exceeds 1.1.

There have also been outbreaks at three slaughterhouses in Germany.

South Korea has shut down more than 2,100 bars and other establishments in Seoul after new coronavirus outbreaks were linked to people who frequented nightclubs last weekend after the government relaxed social distancing guidelines. Many of the infections were traced to a 29-year-old man who went to three nightclubs before testing positive.

Schools in South Korea were scheduled to begin reopening this week, but that may be delayed after the new outbreaks while officials say probes into the new cases would determine the next steps.

Worldwide, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has surpassed 4 million. The global death tally is nearly 280,000, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics.

In central Afghanistan Saturday, clashes between aid-seeking protesters and police have claimed the lives of at least four civilians, including a journalist, and injured 14 others, officials said.

The violence erupted as a coronavirus-induced shutdown and partial border closures with neighboring countries disrupted food deliveries into landlocked Afghanistan.

Saturday’s clashes broke out after dozens of people gathered outside the governor’s office in impoverished Ghor province to protest what they said was a lack of official assistance for their poverty-stricken families.