US President Donald Trump on Thursday called coronavirus "a very bad 'gift' from China, as he marked the milestone of 1 lakh US deaths from the pandemic with Twitter posts, a day after the threshold was reached and his silence noted.
"We have just reached a very sad milestone with the coronavirus pandemic deaths reaching 100,000. To all of the families & friends of those who have passed, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy & love for everything that these great people stood for & represent. God be with you!" Mr Trump said.
In a second tweet, he said:
All over the World the CoronaVirus, a very bad “gift” from China, marches on. Not good!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2020
The expression of sympathy came after the voluble Republican president drew criticism in media and on Twitter for his failure to note the grim milestone that had dominated US news reports on Wednesday.
He also threatened to shut down social media platforms he accused of stifling conservative voices. Twitter on Tuesday had prompted readers to check the facts in tweets sent by Mr Trump, warning that his claims about mail-in ballots were false.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, Mr Trump's likely Democratic opponent in the November presidential election, released a video message on Wednesday after tallies showed the novel coronavirus has killed more than 100,000 people.
"There are moments in our history so grim, so heart-rending, that they're forever fixed in each of our hearts as shared grief. Today is one of those moments," Mr Biden said. "To those hurting, I'm so sorry for your loss."
The New York Times said that the death toll exceeds the number of US military combat fatalities in every conflict since the Korean War.
It matches the toll in the US of the 1968 flu pandemic, and it is approaching the 116,000 killed in another flu outbreak a decade before that, it said.
Donald Trump has repeatedly deflected the blame for the disastrous US response to the crisis, making various accusations against China and the World Health Organization (WHO) including that it tried to block evidence the virus could be transmitted between people.