Former US President Barack Obama
Former US President Barack Obama
PIC: AFP

President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been "an absolute chaotic disaster" for America, Barack Obama has said, the starkest assessment yet from the former president about his successor's "anemic and spotty" response to the global health crisis.

Obama slammed Trump during a private call on Friday night with people who worked for him in the White House and across his administration, according to US media reports.

In a 30-minute conversation with members of the Obama Alumni Association, the former president, a Democrat, said the poor response to the coronavirus outbreak served as a critical reminder for why strong government leadership is needed during a global crisis.

During the call, Obama said his Republican successor's approach to government was partly to blame for the US response to coronavirus.

Over 78,000 people have now died in the US and the country has 1.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 - both by far the highest in the world.

Trump's approach to the coronavirus pandemic has oscillated. In February he dismissed it, saying it would disappear, but by mid-March he acknowledged its severity.

"It would have been bad even with the best of government," Obama was quoted as saying in the call.

"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 operationalised in our government," Obama said.

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