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"The situation is very grave in part because … China was lying from the beginning, and they’re still lying today," Cotton, R-Ark., said. "And also because there are so many unknowns about this virus. For example, how many people one person can infect once they have the virus?"
China criticized the U.S. controls, which it said contradicted the WHO’s appeal to avoid travel bans, and “unfriendly comments” that Beijing was failing to cooperate.
“Just as the WHO recommended against travel restrictions, the U.S. rushed to go in the opposite way. Certainly not a gesture of goodwill,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
Cotton praised the administration for the decision.
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, to quote Benjamin Franklin, and why the president was so smart to ban travel coming from China just a couple weeks ago so we didn’t have more than 20,000 people landing in our country every single day from mainland China," Cotton said.
He also brought up the "questions" surrounding the biosafety level 4 "super laboratory" in Wuhan, the city where the virus is believed to have originated.
"This virus did not originate in the Wuhan animal market," Cotton said. "Epidemiologists who are widely respected from China who published a study … have demonstrated that several of the original cases did not have any contact with that food market. The virus went into that food market before it came out."
"We also know that just a few miles away from that food market is China’s only biosafety level 4 super laboratory that researches human infectious diseases. Now we don’t have evidence that this disease originated there, but because of China’s duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning we need to at least ask the question," Cotton continued.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.