China says US creating, spreading fear after virus outbreak

China says US creating, spreading fear after virus outbreak

A man wears a masks in Chinatown following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Chicago
A man wears a masks in Chinatown following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

BEIJING: The United States has taken actions that create and spread fear following a coronavirus outbreak in China, instead of offering significant aid, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday (Feb 3).

The United States was the first nation to suggest partial withdrawal of its embassy staff, and the first to impose a ban on Chinese travellers, said ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

Washington has "unceasingly manufactured and spread panic", Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters, noting that the World Health Organization (WHO) had advised against trade and travel curbs.

"It is precisely developed countries like the United States with strong epidemic prevention capabilities and facilities that have taken the lead in imposing excessive restrictions contrary to WHO recommendations," she added, saying countries should make reasonable, calm and science-based judgements.

In China, 361 people have died with more than 17,000 infected from the virus, which originated in the central city of Wuhan. At least another 171 cases have been reported in more than two dozen other countries and regions, from the United States to Japan.

READ: China's death toll from coronavirus surpasses SARS

READ: China slams US for travel warning over virus

Conducting her daily news briefing via the WeChat app rather than in person, Hua also chided the United States for lack of help. "So far, the US government has yet to provide any substantial assistance to China," she said.

That contrasted with President Donald Trump's weekend comments that US officials had offered "tremendous help." However, his national security adviser Robert O'Brien told an interviewer China had not yet accepted US offers of aid.

Tensions over the coronavirus come after the two world's largest economies have only just started to patch up relations from an 18-month trade war.

Trump said over the weekend the United States had "shut down" the coronavirus threat. "We can't have thousands of people coming in who may have this problem," he told broadcaster Fox.

Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam have also announced restrictions on travel from China, while numerous nations have been evacuating citizens.

The United States on Jan 28 began evacuating US citizens from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have first emerged late last year.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Jan 30 declared the accelerating outbreak a global emergency. On the same day, the US State Department raised its travel advisory for China.

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Source: Reuters/nh

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