White House: US Has Reached Out to China Over Coronavirus Outbreak

February 2, 2020 Updated: February 2, 2020
FONT BFONT SText size

White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said Sunday that the Chinese regime hasn’t yet accepted an offer from the United States to help contain the outbreak of coronavirus.

“We continue to offer assistance to the Chinese. We’ve offered to send over CDC and other U.S. medical and public health professionals. And we have not heard back yet from the Chinese on those offers, but we’re prepared to continue to cooperate with them,” O’Brien told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

China has placed Wuhan, a city of about 10 million people, and other parts of Hubei province on lockdown to enact a quarantine over the virus, while some locals in Wuhan have told The Epoch Times that the situation in Wuhan is far direr than what the Chinese regime is letting on. Officials in Wenzhou, a port city located in China’s coastal Zhejiang Province, announced on Sunday that only one member from each family in the city can be out buying goods every two days.

O’Brien said the White House has asked Beijing for more transparency after CBS anchor Margaret Brennan noted that regime officials in coronavirus-hit Wuhan, the capitol of Hubei province, may have covered up the extent of the virus.

“President Trump, from the day he took office, made protecting Americans and keeping them safe, whether it’s from terrorists or criminal organizations or from viruses like the new novel coronavirus [his] top priority. So we’re taking steps to keep Americans safe and the government is functioning in that direction,” O’Brien remarked.

The World Health Organization (WHO) last week declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency, while reports have said that some WHO officials are on the ground in Wuhan. But O’Brien said that the top public health officials are in the United States with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Look, this is a worldwide concern. We want to help our Chinese colleagues if we can,” he said, adding that the United States has “made the offer.”

“I think we can be helpful if we’re on the ground. Right now the Chinese are providing information to us and we’re taking that for what it’s worth. But at the same time, we’re monitoring ourselves,” O’Brien said.

Over the weekend, the eighth case of coronavirus was confirmed in the United States, according to health officials in Massachusetts, who said the patient had recently traveled to Hubei Province.

In a statement on Saturday, the Pentagon said Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved a request for assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for housing support for 1,000 people who may be subject to quarantine on arrival from overseas.

Health officials had asked the Defense Department to provide several facilities capable of housing at least 250 people in individual rooms through Feb. 29.

The Pentagon said four military installations have been selected: two in California, one in Colorado, and one in Texas. It said Defense Department personnel would only provide housing support and HHS would be responsible for all care and transportation. “DOD personnel will not be directly in contact with the evacuees and evacuees will not have access to any base location other than their assigned housing,” the Pentagon said.

Reuters contributed to this report.