White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien labeled China’s delayed response to the coronavirus as a cover-up and said it cost the global community two months of response time.
“Unfortunately, rather than use best practices, this outbreak in Wuhan was covered up,” O’Brien said in remarks Wednesday at the Heritage Foundation, The Hill reported.
“There’s lots of open source reporting from Chinese nationals that the doctors involved were either silenced or put in isolation … so the word of this virus could not get out.”
O’Brien’s comments seemed to reference Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang, who was silenced by Chinese police after trying to warn his colleagues about the coronavirus.
“It probably cost the world community two months to respond,” O’Brien added.
According to the Trump administration national security advisor, if China had been open with the rest of the world about the virus, teams from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could have been on the ground earlier to analyze the virus’ sequence and try to prevent it from spreading across the world.
“I think we could have dramatically curtailed what happened in China and what’s now happening across the world,” O’Brien said.
“Remember, this is the Wuhan coronavirus that’s caused this, and the information that we got at the front end of this thing wasn’t perfect and has led us now to a place where much of the challenge we face today has put us behind the curve,” he told CNBC on Friday.
“That’s not the way infectious disease doctors tell me it should work. It’s not the way America works with the transparency and openness and the sharing of the information that needs to take place.
“It has proven incredibly frustrating to work with the Chinese Communist Party to get our hands around the data set, which will ultimately be the solution to both getting the vaccine and attacking this risk.”
O’Brien said President Donald Trump’s early decision to suspend air travel from China “bought the United States six to eight weeks to prepare for the virus.”
“This is a complicated issue,” he said. “Pandemic and epidemics are some of the greatest challenges we face as a country. I think we have done a good job responding to it.”
“All countries can still change the course of this pandemic,” WHO Director Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize their people in the response.”
As of Wednesday morning, there are over 1,000 cases in the United States and 31 people have died of the virus.
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