President Donald Trump is suggesting that world leaders were not adequately warned about the severity of the coronavirus.
During Thursday’s press briefing, the president expressed his annoyance for not being informed sooner.
His comments come as the US investigates what many call a conspiracy theory – and a new report claiming that China sat on critical information for several days.
At the start of the outbreak, China directed the world’s attention to a Wuhan seafood market, suggesting it was the source of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
CNN even traveled there just before the lockdown in January.
Officials had shut down the wet market and security told CNN to leave.
US intelligence officials tell CNN they are investigating another possible source, suggesting the virus may not have originated naturally as China has advertised.
But rather, started in a Wuhan lab.
Sources say it’s one of many origin theories the US is looking into.
Chinese officials are pushing back against that claim, and the Foreign Ministry spokesperson dismissed that the virus started in a lab.
Instead, they stressed that “this is a scientific issue that should be studied by scientists and medical experts.”
Yet it’s the same spokesperson who last month floated a controversial theory, tweeting that “it might be the US Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.”
“China tried to say at one point, they maybe stopped now… that it caused by American soldiers. That can’t happen. It’s not going to happen. Not as long as I am the President. It comes from China,” said President Trump.
The latest debate over the virus’ actual origin coincides with an Associated Press report that claims China sat on critical information for 6 full days – from January 14th until January 20th – downplaying the outbreak in public before finally revealing the full scope of the threat.
The AP report is based on what they characterize as a memo from a January 14th confidential teleconference involving the head of China’s National Health Commission.
CNN has combed through the government’s public report of that teleconference which was released more than a month after it took place.
It says a “sober understanding of the situation” was made known to top Chinese government officials — adding that “clustered cases suggest that human-to-human transmission is possible.”
But that was not the message shared publicly from health officials at the time.
In fact – as hundreds of millions traveled leading up to the Lunar New Year holiday — mass gatherings at airports and railways stations.. the Wuhan Health Commission maintained that the outbreak was “controllable and preventable” and that is was not contagious.
It was not until January 20th did leading health officials acknowledge publicly cases of human-to-human transmission.
They even stated that medical personnel had gotten infected.
CNN spoke with one of the doctors who early on… tried to sound the alarm… and contracted the illness.
Wuhan ophthalmologist Dr. Li Wenliang was reprimanded in early January by Wuhan police.
They accused the 34-year-old of “spreading rumors” after he had messaged friends… warning them of a SARS-like illness going around.
Instead of listening to his warning… police silenced Dr. Li and other whistleblowers.
He died of coronavirus in early February.
CNN’s early reporting also highlighted an underreporting of cases. w
Wuhan residents telling us that their loved ones were never tested…despite suffering from coronavirus-like symptoms.
Instead their deaths are listed as “severe pneumonia,” whether it was intentional or due to lack of testing.
For some, China’s reported number of coronavirus cases and deaths does not add up.
“The mere fact that we don’t know the fact that China hasn’t shared yet. I think the answer is very very telling,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
China’s repeatedly maintained that they have been open and forthcoming in their handling of this outbreak.
On Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry said that in an “open, transparent and responsible manner.”
China has kept the WHO and relevant countries updated on the outbreak, but if the early cover-up and mishandling at the local level was in fact known by top officials…their delayed action might overshadow the massive containment effort that china so proudly promotes.
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