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Home / World News / Multiple US intelligence alerts on Covid-19 went unheeded: Report

Multiple US intelligence alerts on Covid-19 went unheeded: Report

The first major action taken by the Trump administration to fight the outbreak came in late-January with a ban on travelers from China, except US citizens. But the administration did do much for all of February.

world Updated: Apr 28, 2020 20:55 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Washington
The first mention of the virus in the briefings came in early January.
The first mention of the virus in the briefings came in early January.(Bloomberg)

US intelligence agencies raised alarm about coronavirus in classified briefing material prepared for President Donald Trump with increasing frequency over January and February, a period that is seen as a squandered opportunity to aggressively prepare the country for the epidemic.

The warnings came in more than a dozen of briefing papers called the President Daily Brief, the Washington Post reported Monday, adding to a growing body of news accounts and reports of the botched and delayed response of the Trump administration to the epidemic.

The first mention of the virus in the PBD came in early January.

According to the report, by Tuesday morning, four months after, it had killed 52,256 — 1,378 in just the past 24 hours — and infected 988,490, up by 22,412 over the previous day.

These intelligence alerts, the newspaper reported, failed to register on the President who tends to skip the daily briefings and does not pay much attention to the oral summaries he prefers two or three times a week.

The first major action taken by the Trump administration to fight the outbreak came in late-January with a ban on travelers from China, except US citizens. But the administration did do much for all of February, a period of squandered opportunity to beef up essential medical supplies, protective equipment and begin social-distancing and other mitigation efforts.

The president continued to play down the gravity of the crisis. “It’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” he said February 26. “Just stay calm. It will go away,” he said on March 10, the day before the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic, as the Post report noted as an instance of the president’s failure to grasp the seriousness of the situation.

The president has insisted, however, that there was no delay in his response to the crisis and has cited the January travel ban as the highlight of his administration’s response.

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