Speaking to reporters from the State Department Tuesday morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned China for censorship surrounding the coronavirus, which has led to the virus’ unnecessary spread to the rest of the world.
"We want to applaud the brave reporters who are covering the spread of coronavirus from Wuhan itself. Expelling our journalists, exposes once again the [Chinese] government's issue that led to SARS and now the coronavirus, namely censorship. It can have deadly consequences," Pompeo said. "Had China permitted its own and foreign journalists and medical personnel to speak and investigate freely Chinese officials and other nations would have been far better prepared to address the challenge. Similarly, the United States is deeply concerned by information indicating the Iranian regime may have suppressed vital details about the outbreak in that country. As of yesterday afternoon Iran was second only to China in coronavirus deaths."
"Our first priority is to protect the homeland. We've imposed prudent travel restrictions and strong travel advisories to slow the spread of the virus to the United States. All known American carriers of the coronavirus are in isolation and treatment," he continued.
During an exclusive interview with Townhall in Saudi Arabia last week, Pompeo was asked if China is telling the truth about the severity of the virus.
"It's clearly been the case that this information has rolled out too slowly. The United States as been on the forefront, we've been pushing, pushing, to not only seek information but to help the Chinese government get information. We've been prepared to put our technical people wherever we need them. Whether it's on the ground or in a lab," he said. "From my perspective I stare at the fundamental obligations hat every nation has when they are confronted with something like this to share this information accurately, promptly, completely, transparently. This is a global health risk and we need to make sure that response is global. We need scientists from all of the th world top figure out how to push back against this."
"I regret the World Health Organization wasn't able to get into China more quickly to put that technical skillet on the ground," he continued. "We're still pushing."
As Pompeo noted during the press briefing, in Iran the same issue of censorship has led to the death of at least 50 people, the largest death toll outside of China.
1 In a press conference yesterday an Iranian government spokesman confidently asserts they have "no problem" containing coronavirus. Alongside him, the country's deputy health minister appears symptomatic, but takes no precautions to cover/isolate himself pic.twitter.com/TuHlK8LHLz— Karim Sadjadpour (@ksadjadpour) February 25, 2020
2. Today the deputy health minister--who'd "been briefing briefing officials & journalists", presumably without a mask--casually announces he's tested positive. This lack of seriousness and transparency exacerbates the government's legitimacy crisis https://t.co/BAv0QdX1JH— Karim Sadjadpour (@ksadjadpour) February 25, 2020
On Monday President Trump sent a $1.5 billion emergency budget request to Congress, which provides additional resources to combat the virus.