An intelligence report from the Department of Homeland Security says that Chinese leaders covered up how contagious the novel coronavirus is in order to stock up on medical supplies.
The four-page report obtained by The Associated Press said that China “intentionally concealed the severity” of the pandemic, adding to Trump administration officials’ criticisms of the country’s response to the global outbreak.
The analysis, dated May 1 and marked “for official use only,” showed that China had increased imports and decreased exports of medical supplies in January.
The country had covered up its movements by “denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying provision of its trade data,” according to the report.
The report also concluded that China had chosen not to inform the World Health Organization that the coronavirus “was a contagion” so it could order medical supplies and import face masks and surgical gowns from abroad.
Politico also viewed the report that said imports to China of surgical face masks were increased by 278 percent and surgical gowns by 72 percent in January.
The country also decreased its global exports of gloves, gowns and face masks.
Exports of medical ventilators were decreased by 45 percent.
The report’s conclusions are based on the 95 percent probability that the changes in imports and exports were not normal for this time of year.
Trump administration officials have been critical of how the Chinese government and the WHO handled the early stages of the global pandemic.
“We can confirm that the Chinese Communist Party did all that it could to make sure that the world didn’t learn in a timely fashion about what was taking place,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a May interview on ABC’S “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
“That created enormous risk, and now you can see hundreds of thousands of people around the world, tens of thousands in the United States, have been harmed.”
According to the timeline from the WHO, China informed the organization of the outbreak on Dec. 31, 2019.
However, Chinese officials allegedly silenced doctors who warned about the outbreak early on so they could downplay the threat of the virus.
China has also been accused of releasing false statistics and failing to provide accurate information about the outbreak.
Liu Dengfeng of the Chinese National Health Commission’s science and education department said samples of the virus were destroyed at unauthorized labs to “prevent the risk to laboratory biological safety and prevent secondary disasters caused by unidentified pathogens.”
“Based on comprehensive research and expert opinion, we decided to temporarily manage the pathogen causing the pneumonia as Class II — highly pathogenic — and imposed biosafety requirements on sample collection, transport and experimental activities, as well as destroying the samples,” he said.
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