‘Mistake is a mistake’: Trump warns China of ‘consequences’ for Covid-19 outbreak

The American president offered no evidence, but conservative media and his allies have for some time now contended, again with no proof, that the virus escaped a virology lab in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Chinese outbreak that last week revised its death toll by adding 50% previously unreported fatalities.
US President Donald Trump points towards China on a chart showing daily mortality cases during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington.(Reuters Photo)
US President Donald Trump points towards China on a chart showing daily mortality cases during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington.(Reuters Photo)
Updated on Apr 19, 2020 06:51 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Washington | ByYashwant Raj

President Donald Trump on Saturday said China should face “consequences” if it was found to have been “knowingly responsible” for the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“It could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn’t, and the whole world is suffering because of it,” Trump said at the daily briefing by the White House task force on coronavirus.

“If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake,” he added. “But if they were knowingly responsible, yeah, I mean, then sure there should be consequences.”

The American president offered no evidence, but conservative media and his allies have for some time now contended, again with no proof, that the virus escaped a virology lab in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Chinese outbreak that last week revised its death toll by adding 50% previously unreported fatalities.

There have been news reports of this lab receiving US funding and US diplomats expressing serious concerns about safety at the facility. There have also been reports in conservative media that US intelligence agencies have launched an investigation into the lab and they expect to submit a report shortly.

Asked about the role of the lab, Trump told reporters Friday, “We’re looking at that. A lot of people are looking at it. It seems to make sense. They talk about a certain kind of bat, but that bat wasn’t in that area. If you can believe this, that’s what they’re down to now, is bats. But that bat is not in that area. That bat wasn’t sold at that wet zone. It wasn’t sold there. That bat is 40 miles away.” The origin of the pandemic is traced, by some, to a wet market (a fresh produce market) in Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have been transmitted to humans.

President Trump began pointing to China as the origin of the pandemic first by identifying the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus”, which fueled anti-Asian sentiments already coursing through the country. Other US officials chose to call it the “Wuhan virus”, after the city where the epidemic is believed to have started.

Some US officials and Republican lawmakers attacked China alleging it was concealing the true magnitude of it outbreak; they cited intelligence reports .

As the American president came under mounting criticism for his administration’s delayed and botched response to the epidemic, he went after the World Health Organization, accusing it of helping China conceal the magnitude or its outbreak and mismanaging its own response to the crisis.

China has since revised its numbers upwards, by 50% in Wuhan.

But US officials have sought more transparency. Trump, who had previously said China numbers are “larger” than America’s and that it has the “most” in the world, said Saturday, “China is number one, just so you understand. China is number one by a lot. It’s not even close.”

“Does anybody really believe this number?” Trump said later, referring to China’s reported mortality rate of 0.33 per 100,000 people, on a chart presented at the briefing by Deborah birx, coordinator of the task force.

Birx said that she had included China on the chart to show how “unrealistic”those numbers are. The US mortality rate is 11.24 per 100,000, in comparison, which is much higher in comparison to China’s reported numbers, but much lower than some of the other countries such as Belgium, which led the world with 45.2 fatalities per 100,000, followed by Spain with 42.81, and Italy with 37.64.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2022