UK Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove has accused China of concealing the true scale of the COVID-19 crisis, APA reports citing Sputnik.
“The first case of coronavirus in China was established in December of last year, but it was also the case that some of the reporting from China was not clear about the scale, the nature, the infectiousness of this”, he told reporters on Sunday.
The statement comes amid accusations that the UK government wants to use China as a scapegoat to justify the cabinet’s failure to speed up coronavirus outbreak-related testing, especially given that while Britain only just reached the 70,000-test per week threshold, Germany is conducting 500,000 tests within the same period.
“It’s certainly the case that the Germans have had success in testing. There are other countries that are also ramping up testing, but the acceleration here in the UK is significant. Frankly the most important thing is not to look backwards but to look forwards and to do everything that we can to increase the number of tests”, Gove pointed out.
He expressed hope that as soon as the “dreadful” coronavirus pandemic is over, “there will be an opportunity to look back and to learn appropriate lessons”.
The Telegraph has, meanwhile, quoted unnamed government sources as accusing China of “spreading lies” about COVID-19, including Beijing’s attempt to put the blame on a US Army delegation that had visited the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak first took place in late December.
The developments come as the spokesperson for the National Health Commission of China, Mi Feng, said at a briefing on Sunday that “as of 28 March, the number of confirmed cases of infection [in the country] is less than 3,000; the spread of the epidemic in China is generally stopped".
At the same time, Chinese authorities warned that new cases imported from abroad could trigger another wave of the pandemic.
In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Minister Matt Hancock earlier tested positive for the coronavirus, while Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty is self-isolating over COVID-19 symptoms.