US President Donald Trump says he asked officials to conduct fewer coronavirus tests to reduce the number of confirmed cases in the US.
The President made the staggering statement at a re-election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday night.
Addressing thousands of cheering supporters, he called testing a “double-edged sword” that leads to more cases being discovered.
In his speech, he blamed the country’s soaring number of Covid-19 cases on the fact 25 million people have been tested for the virus.
“When you do testing to that extent, you’re gonna find more people you’re gonna find more cases. So I said to my people slow the testing down, please,” he said.
Health experts say expanded testing accounts for some, but not all, of the growth in cases in the US.
Testing is also widely seen as a crucial tool in bringing Covid-19 until control, identifying infected people so they and their contacts can isolate from others.
A White House official has since said Trump was joking.
“He was obviously kidding. We are leading the world in testing and have conducted 25 million plus,” they said.
The US President’s first re-election speech since March drew a crowd of around 10,000 people.