US President Donald Trump speaks about COVID-19 during a meeting with the Governor of Iowa in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 6, 2020. (Photo by AFP)
US President Donald Trump is pressing ahead with its blame game against China over the coronavirus outbreak, saying Beijing should have stopped the disease in its tracks.
“It should have never happened,” Trump said of the disease that emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
“Could have been stopped at the source. Could have been stopped in China,” he added.
The US president, who is seeking reelection in November, has ramped up his anti-China rhetoric in recent weeks as the virus death toll in the US has continued to climb, and as he agitates to re-open the crisis-ridden US economy.
Trump said the coronavirus pandemic is a worse “attack” on the United States than either Pearl Harbor or 9/11.
“This is really the worst attack we’ve ever had,” Trump told reporters. “This is worse than Pearl Harbor. This is worse than the World Trade Center.”
The Japanese assault on the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii drew the United States into World War II.
More than 73,000 Americans died of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) as of early Thursday morning.
Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, predicted the US toll could top 100,000 by the end of May.
“Until we have an effective vaccine, unless something unexpected happens, our viral enemy will be with us for many months or years,” Frieden told a congressional hearing.
Trump has been increasingly critical of China, claiming last week that he had seen evidence linking the virus to a lab in Wuhan, and threatening new trade tariffs.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that there was “enormous evidence” showing that the new coronavirus originated in the Wuhan lab.
China has strongly denied suggestions the lab was the source.
The World Health Organization and Intel shared among US allies also rejected Trump’s claim that the coronavirus came from a Chinese lab.
China urges US to stop blame game
Beijing strongly rejected a claim by the US Department of Homeland Security about the coronavirus and urged the US to stop spreading false information and to concentrate on its domestic problems, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Wednesday.
A recent report from the United States Department of Homeland Security said China withheld the information about the severity of the outbreak and delayed notifying the World Health Organization that the disease was infectious in order to hoard medical supplies.
Hua refuted the claim as sheer nonsense, saying Beijing has always been open, transparent and responsible in the fight against the pandemic.
“China has detailed the timeline of the country’s epidemic prevention and control work on many occasions. We reported the outbreak to the World Health Organization and other countries and regions, including the United States, in a timely manner, and actively engaged in international cooperation in epidemic prevention and control,” said Hua.
She said China has sent a great deal of medical supplies to various countries in a bid to support their fight against the pandemic, and US is one of them.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said as of May 1, China had provided the US with more than 5.3 billion masks, 330 million pairs of surgical gloves, 38.85 million protective suits, 5.98 million goggles, and nearly 7,500 ventilators.
“We want to urge the US side once again to stop spreading false information, stop misleading the international community, take a good look at its domestic problems and try to find out ways to control the pandemic in its country as soon as possible, rather than continue playing the blame game,” said Hua.
Even some US officials have dismissed Trump’s claims that the coronavirus was created in the Chinese state-backed Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Top US scientist Dr Anthony Fauci said, “If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated.”
“Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told National Geographic magazine.
General Mark Milley, the top US general, on Tuesday said it was still not known whether the coronavirus emerged from a wet market in China, the institute of virology or some other location.
‘Trump-China blame game unhelpful’
European Union’s ambassador to China Nicolas Chapuis said rising Sino-US tension is problematic and undermines the broad multinational cooperation needed to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are seeing high levels of tensions, strategic, economic, political, growing day after day. It is our opinion that these tensions are not conducive to the cooperative spirit we need today,” Chapuis said.
He said China is in a unique position to help alleviate tensions and further its economic reforms to avoid destroying global supply chains, the decoupling of major economies and rise of protectionism.
Trump has threatened new tariffs and shifting supply chains away from China amid his criticism of Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
‘Nearly one in 5 US children hungry since virus broke out’
A new study said nearly a fifth of young children in the United States are not getting enough to eat since the coronavirus pandemic erupted, highlighting the broader health impact of the crisis.
The Brookings Institution report said a survey found that 17.4 percent of mothers with children aged 12 or under reported that their offspring were not eating enough due to lack of money.
“It is clear that young children are experiencing food insecurity to an extent unprecedented in modern times. Food insecurity in households with children under 18 has increased by about 130 percent from 2018 to today,” said lead researcher Lauren Bauer.
Bauer described the results as “alarming,” telling the New York Times that households were cutting back on portion sizes and kids were being forced to skip meals.
She said disrupted school meal programs could also be factor, with families not collecting meals from distribution sites and older siblings competing for limited supplies at home.
Bauer called for the government to increase food security programs and boost benefit levels, AFP said.
At least 30 million American workers have lost their jobs in the economic shutdown imposed to slow the spread of the virus.
The coronavirus infected nearly 1.2 million people in the United States and killed more than 73,000 as of early Thursday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University.