Spain records its lowest daily coronavirus deaths in six weeks with 164 fatalities
- October 20, 2020
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that there was ‘enormous evidence‘ that the pandemic originated in a laboratory in Wuhan.
‘There‘s enormous evidence that that‘s where this began. We‘ve said from the beginning that this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China,‘ Pompeo said on .
‘We took a lot of grief for that from the outset. But I think the whole world can see now. Remember, China has a history of infecting the world, and they have a history of running substandard laboratories,‘ he added.
Experts believe the virus started spreading as early as February in the United States before it forced states to issue lockdown directives for millions of Americans beginning in mid-March.
There are more than 1.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the US with at least 68,000 deaths.
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‘These are not the first times that we‘ve had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab,‘ Pompeo said.
Pompeo, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said he agreed with a statement Thursday from the US intelligence community in which it concurred ‘with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified‘.
President Donald Trump has been increasingly critical of China‘s role in the pandemic, which has infected nearly 3.5 million people and killed more than 240,000 around the world.
He has insisted that Beijing recklessly concealed important information about the outbreak and demanded that Beijing be held ‘accountable‘.
Trump has reportedly tasked US spies to find out more about the origins of the virus, first blamed on a Wuhan market selling exotic animals like bats, but now thought possibly to be from a virus research laboratory nearby.
Last week, Trump claimed that he had seen evidence that coronavirus started in the Wuhan virology laboratory and warned he could impose tariffs of $1trillion on China in retribution for the pandemic.
‘Yes I have. Yes I have,‘ Trump said when asked if he had seen proof the virus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Technology.
The lab is located near a wet market that has been identified as the likely epicenter of the outbreak that took place late last year.
However, the president would not divulge what the evidence was that confirmed his suspicions, when asked by a reporter.
‘I can‘t tell you that. I am not allowed to tell you that,‘ he responded.
Pompeo said early Chinese efforts to downplay the coronavirus amounted to ‘a classic Communist disinformation effort. That created enormous risk‘.
‘China behaved like authoritarian regimes do, attempted to conceal and hide and confuse. It employed the World Health Organization as a tool to do the same.‘
‘This is an ongoing threat, an ongoing pandemic,‘ Pompeo said. ‘The Chinese Communist Party continues to block access to the Western world, the world’s best scientists, to figure out exactly what happened.‘
While highly critical of China‘s handling of the matter, Pompeo declined to say whether he thought the virus had been intentionally released.
On Saturday, Chinese health authorities said two new coronavirus cases were confirmed, continuing a downward trend since the government took steps to cut the number of people arriving from overseas.
One new case was in the inland Shanxi province, west of Beijing, and the other was an imported one in Shanghai.
China‘s official confirmed case count stands at 82,877. Most of the patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals.
The country reported no new deaths Saturday and has recorded just one in the past two weeks. China‘s official death toll has reached 4,633.
The government has blocked virtually all foreigners from entering the country and sharply curtailed the number of international flights, making it difficult for Chinese citizens to return from overseas too.