In this file photo taken on January 29, 2020 Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council, speaks during a television interview in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC. The United States feels let down by a lack of transparency from China over the coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak, a senior White House official said February 13, 2020. "We are a little disappointed that we haven't been invited in and we're a little disappointed in the lack of transparency coming from the Chinese," Larry Kudlow, the director of President Donald Trump's Economic Council, told reporters.
AFP/Saul Loeb
White House 'disappointed' in China's virus transparency
(Agence France-Presse) - February 14, 2020 - 8:43am

WASHINGTON, United States — The United States feels let down by a lack of transparency from China over the new-coronavirus crisis, a senior White House official said Thursday, contradicting President Donald Trump's confidence in Beijing.

"We are a little disappointed that we haven't been invited in and we're a little disappointed in the lack of transparency coming from the Chinese," Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, told reporters.

Trump on Thursday again praised his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for his government's response to the outbreak, which has officially killed 1,367 people and infected nearly 60,000 since December.

But Kudlow said that unanswered questions were mounting and there was no sign of the promised cooperation.

"President Xi assured President Trump that China was on it and there would be openness, they would accept our help," he added.

"We're more than willing to work with the UN (and) WHO on this and they won't let us. I don't know what their motives are. I do know that apparently more and more people are suffering over there."

"Is the Politburo really being honest with us?" he asked, referring to communist China's top leadership body.

An international mission led by the World Health Organization is expected to arrive in China over the weekend.

China had been praised by the WHO for its handling of the outbreak, in contrast to the way it concealed the extent of the deadly SARS virus epidemic in 2002-2003.


But the government has faced continued skepticism among the global public. Criticism intensified after the death of a doctor who had tried to raise the alarm about the outbreak in December but was silenced by authorities.

Trump told the Geraldo Rivera "Roadkill" radio program that he has confidence in Beijing and understood officials' reluctance to provide information.

"I think they want to put the best face on it," he said. "You wouldn't want to run out to the world, and go crazy and start saying whatever it is, because you don't want to create a panic."

"I think they've handled it professionally and I think they're extremely capable and I think President Xi is extremely capable," he said.

Contrary to Kudlow's description of Beijing's not allowing access, Trump said: "We're working with them. We're sending a lot of people."

Trump also repeated his belief that seasonally warmer weather in April could spell the end of the virus, a prognosis at odds with top US health officials who caution against commenting on the epidemic's trajectory.

"The April date is very, very important, because if that's the case, if heat does in fact kill, that's when it starts getting hot and this virus reacts very poorly to heat and dies," Trump said.

Kudlow predicted that the economic impact would be "quite minimal" for the United States, but said that fears over the coronavirus were creating "uncertainty."

"If we don't get good information out of China, it's very hard for us to make a decent assessment," he said.

Beijing's United Nations Ambassador Zhang Jun told the UN Commission for Social Development on Wednesday that China has "always adopted an open, transparent and highly responsible attitude" towards the epidemic. 

"We have reported the epidemic information to the WHO, the relevant countries, and Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan regions as soon as it is available, shared the genetic sequences of the virus, actively communicated with other countries in order to come up with responses," he said. 

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: February 24, 2020 - 3:29pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

February 24, 2020 - 3:29pm

Authorities in Wuhan on Monday reversed a decision that would have allowed some people to leave the quarantined city at the centre of China's deadly virus epidemic, and reprimanded officials who had made the announcement.

The city government said in a statement that the previous announcement had been made by a traffic prevention and control group "without the consent" of the local leadership.

"The announcement is declared invalid. In this regard, we have seriously dealt with the relevant personnel," the city said on its official account on Twitter-like Weibo.

"Wuhan resolutely implements the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping's important instructions on 'preventing leaks (of the virus)' ... strictly manages the passages leaving from Wuhan, strictly controls personnel, and strictly prevents the epidemic from going out," it said.  — AFP

February 24, 2020 - 8:58am

Israel confirms its second case of the new coronavirus — a second returned citizen from the stricken cruise ship Diamond Princess.

"Another passenger who returned from the cruise ship in Japan has tested positive," a health ministry statement said.

"The patient is in isolation and under supervision and was not infected in Israel," it said.

The first case was announced on Friday. — AFP

February 24, 2020 - 8:57am

Iran's confirmed death toll from the new coronavirus rises to eight, the highest outside China, sending neighbouring countries scrambling to contain the outbreak.

Four immediate neighbours of the Islamic republic — Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Armenia — said on Sunday they would close land borders, while three imposed restrictions on air traffic, amid growing regional concerns about the spread of the virus.

Iraqi and Kuwaiti authorities have already banned travel to and from Iran.

Lebanon has confirmed its first case — a 45-year-old Lebanese woman who had travelled from Qom in Iran — and Israel on Sunday quarantined at home nearly 200 school pupils who came into contact with South Korean tourists who contracted the virus. — AFP

February 24, 2020 - 8:55am

Armenia will close its border with Iran and suspend flights, Prime Minister Nikol Pachinian announced Sunday, as fears over a deadly outbreak of the new coronavirus in Iran sent neighbouring countries scrambling to contain the outbreak.     

"Iran-Armenia air links and the entry of people into Armenia via the Meghri checkpoint", the only border crossing between the nations, "will be suspended", he said in a post on Twitter, adding that the measure was set to last two weeks. 

A special committee tasked with preventing the spread of the virus in Armenia will meet on Monday to discuss other possible steps in view of the situation in Iran, Pachinian said.

"There is no reason to be overcome by panic," he added. — AFP

February 24, 2020 - 8:54am

An elderly woman in hospital for cancer who tested positive for the new coronavirushas died, health officials in Italy said on Sunday. 

"She had been hospitalised for a few days," said Giulio Gallera, the health chief of the northern Lombardy region, the centre of a coronavirus outbreak. "She'd been tested and they already knew she had the coronavirus."

If coronavirus is determined to be the cause of death, the woman will be the third person in Italy to have died from the so-called COVID-19 epidemic. — AFP

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