Coronavirus Outbreak: 'Could've told us earlier'; Donald Trump slams China for being secretive about the pandemic

'They should have told us about this', Donald Trump told reporters at a press conference in the White House on Sunday during a briefing on his administration's coronavirus response

Press Trust of India March 23, 2020 18:27:51 IST
Coronavirus Outbreak: 'Could've told us earlier'; Donald Trump slams China for being secretive about the pandemic

Washington: US President Donald Trump has said he is "a little upset" with China over its late sharing of information on the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus and refusing to accept a visit by American medical experts to the country "out of pride".

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File image of US president Donald Trump. AP

"They should have told us about this," Trump told reporters at a press conference in the White House on Sunday during a briefing on his administration's coronavirus response.

"I'm a little upset with China. I'll be honest with you, because as much as I like (Chinese) President Xi (Jinping) and as much as I respect and admire the country," he said.

There are now 31,057 confirmed cases across the US, with 390 deaths.

New York state has become the epicentre of the outbreak in the US and accounts for almost half of the country's cases.

Trump said soon after he received information about the spread of the deadly viral infection in China, he wanted to send US medical team there. However, China did not allow.

Without specifying any timeline, Trump said he had spoken to President Xi "specifically" about sending US team to China, however, "he doesn't want this... this is not something that he wants".

The US president said it is "out of pride" that China didn't "want us to send people" and "they didn't really respond".

"I wish they could have told us earlier about what was going on inside," Trump said. "We didn't know about it until it started coming out publicly," he said.

Trump added that China "was very secretive and that's unfortunate."

Reiterating that America's relationship with China is "very good", Trump said, "I wish they (had) told us three months sooner that this was a problem. We didn't know about it. They knew about it and they should (have) told us. We could have saved a lot of lives throughout the world."

Meanwhile, the US and Chinese officials continued with their war of words over coronavirus on Twitter.

"Since early January, the CCP has retaliated against its citizens and journalists in China for making information public, launched disinformation campaigns around the world, and limited the international community's access to valuable public health information," the National Security Council of the White House tweeted, referring to the China's ruling Communist Party.

On 20 March, Morgan Ortagus, spokesperson of the US State Department, tweeted, "By 3 January, Chinese authorities had already ordered COVID-19 virus samples destroyed, silenced Wuhan doctors, and censored public concerns online."

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Responding to the tweet, Hua Chunying, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said China has been updating the US on coronavirus and its response since 3 January. On 15 January, the US State Department notified Americans in China about the US Centre for Disease Control's warning against the coronavirus .

"And now blame China for Delay? Seriously," she said.

China, Hua tweeted, has treated COVID-19 as highly pathogenic virus according to the law on prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.

"As WHO stated, China identified the pathogen in a record short time and shared genetic sequence with the world, which helped others with epidemic response," she said.

However, Ortagus denied her remarks.

"Nonsense. You call it 'highly pathogenic' now, but last month your officials blocked a WHO report from calling COVID-19 a 'dangerous pathogen'," she said, tagging a link of a 'Financial Times' article on the topic to buttress her argument.

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