US: China intentionally hid coronavirus’ severity to stockpile medical supplies

The Chinese government intentionally covered up the severity of the coronavirus outbreak from the international community while it stockpiled imports and decreased exports, US intelligence documents show.

“China likely cut its exports of medical supplies prior to its January WHO (World Health Organization) notification that COVID-19 is a contagion,” a Department of Homeland Security report found, an administration official familiar with the report said.

“We further assess the Chinese Government attempted to hide its actions by denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying provision of its trade data,” the report added.

The report also says China held off informing the World Health Organization that the coronavirus “was a contagion” for much of January so it could order medical supplies from abroad — and that its imports of face masks and surgical gowns and gloves increased sharply.

Earlier Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stepped up administration claims that China mounted efforts to hide the extent of the coronavirus spread, saying that there is a “significant amount of evidence’ that the coronavirus came from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

“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. There’s lots of evidence of that. Some of it you can see in public, right? We’ve seen announcements. We’ve seen the fact that they kicked journalists out. We saw the fact that those who were trying to report on this – medical professionals inside of China – were silenced. They shut down reporting. All the kind of things that authoritarian regimes do,” Pompeo said.

The outbreak began in China’s Hubei province in late 2019, but the country has publicly reported only about 83,000 cases and 4,600 deaths.