President Donald Trump cast doubt on the accuracy of official Chinese figures on its coronavirus outbreak after US lawmakers, citing an intelligence report, accused Beijing of a cover up.
"How do we know" if they are accurate, Trump asked at a press conference. "Their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side."
Republicans in Congress, pointing to a report by Bloomberg citing US intelligence, expressed outrage that Beijing apparently misled the international community on China's infections and deaths that began in late 2019 in the city of Wuhan. China has publicly reported 82,394 confirmed cases and 3,316 deaths as of yesterday, according to a rolling tracker by Johns Hopkins University.
That compares to 216,722 cases and 5.137 deaths in the United States, the country with the world's largest reported outbreak.
Republican Senator Ben Sasse attacked Beijing's numbers as "garbage propaganda."
"The claim that the United States has more coronavirus deaths than China is false," Sasse said in a statement.
CHINA COUNTY IN LOCKDOWN
A Chinese county of around 600,000 residents has gone into lockdown after a woman who visited the area tested positive for the coronavirus, underscoring concerns over a second wave of domestic infections.
The tightening comes as China reported 35 new confirmed cases yesterday, drastically down from the peak of the crisis. But they were all imported, bringing the tally of such cases to 841 and adding to fears about infections brought in from overseas.
Jia county in central Henan province said in a social media post Wednesday that it was tightening restrictions on villages and residential compounds, and was not allowing people to enter or leave their homes without the relevant authorisation.