US President Donald Trump, who has come under attack for labeling the novel coronavirus the "Chinese virus", said that Asian Americans shouldn't be blamed for the pandemic, a media report said on Tuesday.
"It is very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States and all around the world. They're amazing people and the spreading of the virus is not their fault in any way, shape or form," the BBC report quoted Trump as saying at a White Houe press briefing on Monday.
"They're working closely with us to get rid of it - we will prevail together."
When asked by a reporter why he had spoken out, Trump said: "It seems that there could be a little bit of nasty language toward the Asian Americans in our country and I don't like that at all.
"These are incredible people, they love our country and I'm not going to let it happen."
During press conferences last week, Trump used the term "China virus" and "Chinese virus", rejecting suggestions from reporters that the term was racist, said the BBC report.
"It comes from China," Trump had said. "It's not racist at all."
The World Health Organization has issued guidance against "stigmatizing certain communities" when naming illnesses.
US lawmaker Judy Chu, a California Democrat and chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, told NBC News that his comments wouldn't "be necessary if he and his supporters had not already endangered numerous by spreading this toxic xenophobia".
According to the newest update by the Washington-based John Hopkins University, the US has thus far reported 46,450 coronavirus cases, with 590 deaths.