What is China hiding? US scientists can’t enter country to investigate coronavirus origins
US President Donald Trump has launched several verbal attacks against Beijing over recent weeks, lashing out at the country’s alleged slow response to the deadly coronavirus pandemic, which has now infected 2.7 million people and killed nearly 190,000. Mike Pompeo has now accused China of not allowing “the transparency and openness we need” regarding the pandemic, which is thought to have originated in the Western city of Wuhan towards the end of last year. Like Mr Trump, the Secretary of State, a vocal critic of China over COVID-19, has also continued to add fuel to a conspiracy theory suggesting the killer virus may have originated in a scientific research lab in Wuhan, although this has yet to be proven.
The Chinese government hasn’t permitted American scientists to go into China, to go into not only the Wuhan lab but wherever it needs to go to learn about this virus, to learn about its origins
Mr Pompeo told Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle on Wednesday: “Even today, the Chinese government hasn’t permitted American scientists to go into China, to go into not only the Wuhan lab but wherever it needs to go to learn about this virus, to learn about its origins.”
The Secretary of State also attacked China during a news briefing, accusing the country of taking advantage of the pandemic to bully neighbours – despite welcoming Beijing’s provision of essential medical supplies.
He said the US “strongly believed” Beijing had failed to report the outbreak in a timely manner, which he warned is in breach of World Health Organisation (WHO) rules.
Mr Pompeo accused Beijing of failing to report human-to-human transmission of the virus “for a month until it was in every province inside of China”.
The Secretary of State also claimed China had stopped testing new virus samples, “destroyed existing samples” and failed to share samples with the outside world, “making it impossible to track the disease’s evolution.”
He said: “The United States strongly opposes China’s bullying, we hope other nations will hold them to account.”
But China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang strongly denied these allegations in the news briefing, and hit back: “One or two people in the U are confusing right and wrong and sowing discord on these issues.
“These schemes will not prevail.”
Wuhan officials and China’s central Government have been accused of sitting on early reports of the coronavirus outbreak and failing to inform the WHO about the severity and scale of the virus’ threat.
Last week, Mr Trump threatened to pull hundreds of millions of pounds in annual funding to the WHO over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
He has continued to claim the WHO had promoted China’s “disinformation” about the virus that likely led to a wider coronavirus outbreak than otherwise would have occurred.
The US President claimed the organisation had failed to investigate credible reports from sources in China’s Wuhan province that conflicted with Beijing’s accounts about the spread and “parroted and publicly endorsed” the idea that human to human transmission was not happening.
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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hit back at the US President, warning it was not the time to reduce resources for the WHO.
But Mr Pompeo has now said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom failed to use his ability “to go public” when a member state failed to follow the rules.
He said the organisation had an obligation to ensure safety standards were observed in virology labs in Wuhan and its director-general had “enormous authority with respect to nations that do not comply.”
The latest war of words comes as shocking new research has suggests the true number of COVID-19 cases in China is likely to be close to a quarter of a million – quadruple the official tally.
Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Centre puts the number at 83,878, with the death toll at 4,636.
The figure is based on data supplied by the Chinese Government – but a study published in medical journal The Lancet casts doubt on their veracity.
The authors, from Hong Kong University’s school of public health, claim China’s national health commission issued seven versions of a case definition for COVID-19 between January 15 and March 3, concluding the changes were likely to have had a “substantial effect” on how many infections were officially confirmed.
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