Donald Trump defends handling of coronavirus threat

President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally in South Carolina Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP

President Donald Trump has lashed out at Democrats who questioned his handling of the coronavirus threat, calling it their new "hoax".

At a campaign rally in South Carolina, Mr Trump sought to steal some of the spotlight from his Democratic rivals a day before voters cast their ballots in the state's presidential primary.

The president accused Democrats of "politicising" the global outbreak and boasted about the preventive steps he has ordered in an attempt to keep the virus that originated in China from spreading across the US.

Some Democrats have said the president could have acted sooner to bolster the country’s response to the virus.

The US has two confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Credit: AP

Just before Mr Trump began to speak, health officials in the US confirmed the country’s second case of the strain of coronavirus contracted by someone who did not travel internationally or come in close contact with anyone who had it.

On Wednesday the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a case of coronavirus in Solano County, California.

Eugenia Kendall (right) wears a mask outside of the Vacaville City Hall, California while standing with her husband, Ivan. Credit: AP

"They have no clue. They can’t even count their votes in Iowa," Mr Trump said, referring to problems that plagued the Democratic vote in the Iowa caucuses on February 3.

"They tried the impeachment hoax … this is their new hoax."

Mr Trump said Democrats only want to see him fail and argued that the steps he has taken so far have kept cases to a minimum in the US and led to no deaths from the virus.

He said: "A virus that starts in China, bleeds its way into various countries all around the world, doesn’t spread widely at all in the United States because of the early actions that myself and my administration took, against a lot of other wishes, and the Democrats' single talking point … is that it's Donald Trump's fault".

Mr Trump was a vocal critic of former President Barack Obama's response to the 2014 Ebola scare.

The Ebola outbreak barely touched the US but was seen as a factor in that year's midterm elections, which restored control of the Senate to Republicans.