China hid coronavirus severity to hoard medical supplies: US Report
China hid the severity of the coronavirus outbreak so that it could build up the medical supplies needed to fight the infection. According to a US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a previously unpublished report, the AP reports.
The four-page document states that Chinese officials “deliberately concealed the seriousness” of the health threat from the international community. At the same time, Beijing reportedly increased imports and restricted exports of medical supplies, “denying any export restrictions and obscuring trade data and postponing its delivery.”
“China reported an increase in imports of surgical face masks by 278 percent, surgical gowns by 72 percent and surgical gloves by 32 percent in January,” Politico reports.
“At the same time, China reduced exports of medical products. Surgical gloves dropped 48 percent, lung ventilators fell 45 percent, intubation sets down 56 percent, thermometers down 53 percent, and cotton swabs fell 58 percent,” the AP writes.
According to DHS, these fluctuations are 95 percent unlikely to be due to standard business practices. They conclude that Beijing withheld important information so that it could buy essential medical products abroad. The US Department of State did not comment immediately on the report, which, according to the AP, is not subject to secrecy and is marked “for official purposes only.”
The leak came to the media after a series of critical remarks from US officials, including President Donald Trump, about China’s actions in connection with the pandemic. US Foreign Ministry chief Mike Pompeo said in a television interview on Sunday that China was responsible for spreading the coronavirus and must be held accountable.