China’s “cover-up” of the coronavirus cost the world community two months of time to respond, Trump National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said Wednesday during a think-tank event.
“Unfortunately, rather than using best practices, this outbreak in Wuhan was covered up,” he said at the Heritage Foundation in response to a question about China’s handling of the virus.
He noted that doctors were silenced or put in isolation so that word of the virus could not get out.
“It probably cost the world community two months to respond,” he added.
He said if not for those two months, “we could have dramatically curtailed what happened in China and what’s now happening across the world.”
He noted that as soon as the administration realized what was happening, it stopped travel to the U.S. from China — about 20,000 people a day.
“The president made a very courageous decision,” he said, adding that it bought the U.S. six to eight weeks.
Meanwhile, Chinese officials have begun claiming the virus did not start in China, despite Wuhan being the epicenter of the virus’ outbreak. For example, China’s ambassador to South Africa suggested in a recent tweet that the coronavirus did not originate from China:
Although the epidemic first broke out in China, it did not necessarily mean that the virus is originated from China, let alone "made in China". pic.twitter.com/EVXLkQnyfF
— Chinese Ambassador to South Africa (@AmbLINSongtian) March 7, 2020
O’Brien flatly dismissed those claims: “This virus did not originate in the United States, it originated in Wuhan and Hubei Province in China. It originated some time ago.”