Report: China hid Covid-19’s severity to hoard supplies

In Changyuan, near Xinxiang in China’s Henan province, face mask factories. (Photo courtesy: China Daily)

(, May04’20) – Amid a brewing backlash against China for its ongoing Covid-19 devastation of the world, US intelligence documents show that Beijing covered up the extent of the Covid-19 outbreak — and the contagiousness of the disease — to hoard medical supplies needed to respond to it, reported the AP May 4.

Chinese leaders “intentionally concealed the severity” of the pandemic from the world in early Jan 2019, the report cited a four-page Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intelligence report dated May 1 as saying.

Not classified but marked “for official use only,” the DHS analysis was stated as saying that while downplaying the severity of the novel coronavirus, China increased imports and decreased exports of medical supplies. And it attempted to cover up this action by “denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying provision of its trade data,” the analysis was cited as saying.

The document was also cited as saying 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.

Those conclusions were stated to have been based on 95 per cent probability that China’s changes in imports and export behaviour were not within normal range.

US President Donald Trump believes that China unleashed the coronavirus due to some kind of horrible “mistake.” His intelligence agencies say they are still examining a notion put forward by the president and aides that the pandemic may have resulted from an accident at a Chinese lab, the report said.

Meanwhile a backlash is building against China for its initial mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak, which has grown into a global crisis.

Australia has called for an inquiry into the origin of the virus, inviting an angry rebuff from China. President Trump has blamed China for the contagion and is seeking to punish the country. Some governments want to sue Beijing for damages and reparations. Germany and Britain are having second thoughts about dealing with the Chinese tech giant Huawei, noted the New York Times in its May 4 morning email briefing.

.China has responded aggressively, mixing medical aid to other countries with economic threats. It has shown particular hostility towards any move by anyone to investigate the source of the virus that has led to the Covid-19 pandemic.


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