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Home / World News / ‘Might be US army who brought epidemic to Wuhan’: Chinese FM spokesperson

‘Might be US army who brought epidemic to Wuhan’: Chinese FM spokesperson

A war of words has broken out between China and the US over the novel coronavirus pandemic with Beijing on Thursday alleging that it could have been the American military that brought the virus to Wuhan.

world Updated: Mar 12, 2020 22:56 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
A medical staff member disinfects equipments at a ward used to be an isolation ward for patients infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus at a hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on March 12, 2020.
A medical staff member disinfects equipments at a ward used to be an isolation ward for patients infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus at a hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on March 12, 2020. (AFP file photo)

A war of words has broken out between China and the US over the novel coronavirus pandemic with Beijing on Thursday alleging that it could have been the American military that brought the virus to the outbreak epicentre, Wuhan.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian tweeted the allegation late on Thursday night, referring to the US Centres for Disease Control director, Robert Redfield’s statement that some Americans who had died apparently died of influenza could have been infected by the novel coronavirus.

Zhao, spokesperson and deputy director general of the information department of the foreign ministry, tweeted: “CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!

In an earlier tweet, Zhao referred to Redfield’s statement made during a meeting in Washington.

Zhao didn’t elaborate on his allegation.

Earlier in the day, the Chinese foreign ministry reacted sharply when asked to respond to the allegation made by Robert O’Brien, the White House national security adviser, that China covered up the virus outbreak in Wuhan, and this likely cost the world two months of time to prepare.

“The US official accuses China of ‘covering up’ the disease. Well, the world knows better that China released information in an open and transparent manner. It identified the pathogen within a record short period of time and shared the genetic sequence of the virus with WHO and other countries including the US,” spokesperson, Geng Shuang said at the regular ministry briefing.

“Not long ago, China hosted a WHO mission including US experts for a nine-day visit, after which they highly commended China’s transparency. Here we do not comment on whether the US response is open and transparent, but obviously, someone in the US still turns a deaf ear to international appraisal on China,” he added.

Geng said: “To quote an ancient Chinese saying, “Turn inward and examine yourself when you encounter difficulties in life.” We urge the US official to respect facts and the common understanding of the international community.”

Meanwhile, the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet has published a study detailing the first known person-to-person transmission of the novel coronavirus in the US.

“On January 23, 2020, Illinois reported the state’s first laboratory-confirmed case (index case) of covid-19 in a woman in her 60s, who returned from Wuhan, China in mid-January, 2020. Subsequently, the first evidence of secondary transmission in the USA was reported on January 30, when her husband, who had not travelled outside the USA but had frequent, close contact with his wife since her return, tested positive for SARS-CoV-2,” the study said.

On December 25, according to the study, the female patient travelled to Wuhan where she visited a hospitalised-relative and other family members with undiagnosed respiratory illness.

“On her return to the USA on January 13, 2020, she experienced six days of mild fever, fatigue, and cough before being hospitalised with pneumonia and testing positive for SARS-CoV-2,” the study said.

The couple has since recovered.

ht epaper

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