China on Monday accused the United States of spreading panic in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, including a temporary ban on Chinese travellers, AFP reported. The virus originated in a live seafood market in Wuhan in China’s Hubei province.
On Friday, the Donald Trump administration declared a public health emergency and temporarily banned the entry of foreigners who have travelled to China in the past two weeks in order to contain the spread of the virus. There have been 11 confirmed cases in the United States, CBS News reported, while 361 people have died across the world till now.
The US did not provide “any substantial assistance” and only created panic, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying alleged at a regular press briefing on Monday. She pointed out that the US was the first to suggest a partial withdrawal of its embassy staff.
“It is precisely developed countries like the US with strong epidemic prevention capabilities... that have taken the lead in imposing excessive restrictions contrary to WHO recommendations,” Reuters quoted Hua as saying. The spokesperson urged countries to make reasonable, calm and science-based judgements.
Hua conducted the daily news briefing through the WeChat app rather than in person. Though she criticised the US for not offering help, Trump’s National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told an interviewer that China had not yet accepted Washington’s offers of aid.
The current tensions surrounding the outbreak of the deadly virus come after the two countries – the world’s largest economies – started mending their relations following a bruising 18-month trade war. Over the weekend, President Trump said 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 the Fox news channel.