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Peter Navarro Claims China Tried to ‘Corner the World Market’ in Masks after They Identified Coronavirus Threat

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro listens to a news conference outside of the West Wing of the White House, March 4, 2019. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said Monday that during the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, China attempted to “corner the world market” in personal protective equipment such as face masks and gloves

“We know that China knew about the virus as early as mid-December. We know that for a period of about five to six weeks they hid the dangers from the rest of the world even as Chinese citizens were flying around the world seeding the world with the virus,” Navarro said on Fox News.

Navarro added that he has not been part of any discussion about suing China regarding this matter.

“It looks like during that interval, China was basically attempting to corner the market in personal protective equipment including masks. So they were buying large quantities of masks, gloves, goggles, respirators from the rest of the world at a time when the world was still sleeping with respect to the dangers of the virus.”

Navarro pointed out that Chinese customs data shows “one statistic that I think every American should sit up and really stare at,” namely that China bought 2.2 billion face masks between January 24 and the end of February.

“Americans are getting infected because they don’t have the masks. Italians are dying because they don’t have masks. Health care professionals are going down,” the White House trade adviser said. “If those statistics are telling a story about China basically going out and trying to corner the world market in PPE when they knew the dangers and didn’t tell the rest of the world, I think that’s a significant discussion we need to have, at least after this is all over because that’s a serious matter.”

Health care workers in the U.S. are rationing personal protective equipment as they handle a shortage of supplies to handle the pandemic.

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