United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday questioned the accuracy of China’s official figures on the number of coronavirus cases and deaths after lawmakers cited an intelligence report claiming that country hid the extent of the outbreak from the world, AFP reported.

The report, published by Bloomberg, said that unidentified US official told the White House that China under-reported both total cases and deaths caused by the coronavirus since the outbreak. The intelligence officials alleged that China’s public reporting on cases and deaths is intentionally incomplete.

Citing the report at a press conference on Wednesday, Trump said that China’s official coronavirus figures seem to be on the “light side”. “How do we know if they are accurate?” Trump asked at the press conference. “Their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side.”

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According to the Johns Hopkins University – which is tracking coronavirus cases across the world based on data from the World Health Organization and governments – China has reported 82,294 cases of the coronavirus and 3,199 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak in December last year. The US has more 2,16,722 cases of the coronavirus – the maximum in the world. The toll has surpassed 5,000.

Senator Ben Sasse from Trump’s Republican Party said the claim that US has more coronavirus-linked deaths than China is false. “The Chinese Communist Party has lied, is lying, and will continue to lie about coronavirus to protect the regime,” he said, according to AFP.

Michael McCaul, top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said China lied to the world about the coronavirus and silenced those who tried to report the truth. “They lied to the world about the human-to-human transmission of the virus, silenced doctors and journalists who tried to report the truth, and are now apparently hiding the accurate number of people impacted by this disease,” he said, calling for an investigation into China’s “cover-up”.

Doubts about China’s transparency in dealing with the pandemic have strained its ties with US. China, on the other hand, has strongly opposed any references to the coronavirus as “Chinese Virus” and “Wuhan Virus” and has said that such labelling will lead to stigmatization of the country. Last month, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian had triggered a controversy by promoting conspiracy theories claiming that the US army may have brought the deadly coronavirus to China.