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Pressure on China to provide more information about the origin of the novel coronavirus is ramping up from U.S. officials after reports that China withheld information about the virus that's infected 4 million people globally.
"There's no question that Xi Jinping and senior officials in the Chinese Communist Party were pressuring the [World Health Organization] all the way back to December to undersell the risk of this virus," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton said on "Sunday Morning Futures." "Look, they knew in China early on, probably as early as the early days of December, that this virus was both highly contagious among humans and it was very deadly for certain people. Yet they wanted to save face."
Meanwhile, after reports from China in March and April that it had the virus under control, northeast China is seeing a new round of infections, Reuters reports.
Cotton also brought up a new report indicating an October shutdown around the laboratory in Wuhan, China, where some believe the virus may have originated.
"The reports indicate that on major roads around these labs, Wuhan, you obviously had thousands and thousands of cell phones pinging towers day in and day out," Cotton said. "And then all of a sudden in October, it stopped and it remained stopped for several days. That would suggest without any further information that those roads were blocked for some reason. Now we need to go confirm that."
"The Chinese Communist Party could obviously help us with that if they would open up and allow us to investigate what happened in Wuhan," he said.
China's foreign ministry continues to push back against associating Wuhan with the virus' origin.
"Being the first to report the virus does not mean that Wuhan is its origin. In fact, the origin is still not identified," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying posted on Twitter on Sunday.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told "Sunday Morning Futures" that "patient zero" in China was in mid-November and said China's actions will continue to have dramatic economic consequences for U.S. industry.
"We know that China hid the virus from the world behind the shield of the World Health Organization," Navarro said.
WHO pushed back against a report from Germany's Der Spiegel that its Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to delay warning the world about the virus.
"Dr Tedros and President Xi did not speak on 21 January and they have never spoken by telephone," WHO said in a statement on Saturday. "Such inaccurate reports distract and detract from WHO’s and the world’s efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic."