China Concealed Severity of Virus to Hoard Supplies, DHS Report Concludes

People pass by portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping and late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong as the country is hit by the coronavirus, Shanghai, China, February 10, 2020. (Aly Song/Reuters)

China hid the scope of the country’s coronavirus outbreak as well as information on how contagious the illness is in order to have time to stock up on medical supplies, according to an intelligence report from the Department of Homeland Security.

The Chinese government “intentionally concealed the severity” of the outbreak in January and neglected for weeks to inform the World Health Organization that the virus was contagious, the four-page May 1 document marked “for official use only” states.

Meanwhile, China was increasing imports and decreasing exports of medical supplies as the outbreak worsened within its borders. In January, China increased imports of face masks, surgical gloves, and surgical gowns while lowering exports of surgical gloves, surgical gowns, face masks, ventilators, and other medical supplies.

“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 intelligence report stated.

The report comes as the Trump administration has become more critical of China’s early response to the outbreak, accusing Beijing of deliberately stifling information about the outbreak and preventing the rest of the world from being able to prepare in time.

“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,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday.

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