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Trump says China should face 'consequences' if they were 'knowingly responsible' for coronavirus pandemic


Dr. Birx said China's COVID-19 numbers are "basically unrealistic."

Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Donald Trump said China should face "consequences" if the communist nation deliberately allowed the coronavirus to spread.

During his daily coronavirus press briefing at the White House on Saturday, President Trump was asked whether there should be consequences for China if it was responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.

"If they were knowingly responsible, certainly," Trump responded. "If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake. But if they were knowingly responsible, yeah, then there should be consequences."

The president did not specify what the consequences may be.

During the COVID-19 news conference on April 13, President Trump said, "China will find out" what consequences there will be if they are found to have deliberately withheld vital coronavirus information.

"This crisis could have been stopped in China," President Trump stated on Saturday. "It could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn't, and the whole world is suffering because of it."

Trump added that Beijing was against his Jan. 31 executive order that blocked entry into the US to anyone who had been in China in the last 14 days.

"They didn't like the idea of closing off our country. They said it was a bad thing to do, actually, and they've since taken that back," Trump said. "But it was a very lucky thing that we did it. Very lucky. We would have had numbers that were very significantly greater. [Dr. Anthony] Fauci said that. He said it would have been very significantly greater had we not that."

"But it's still a very depressing subject, because there's a lot of death," the president lamented. "If it were stopped very early on, at the source, before it started blowing into these proportions, you have 184 countries that would have been in a lot better shape."

There are currently more than 740,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US and nearly 40,000 deaths. There are over 2.3 million confirmed cases and almost 162,000 deaths worldwide.

Also during the press briefing, the president compared the US mortality rate from coronavirus to other countries. "The United States has produced dramatically better health outcomes than any other country, with the possible exception of Germany," Trump noted.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, presented a slide with coronavirus mortality rates from various countries. President Trump interjected to question the COVID-19 statistics released by Iran and China.

As he pointed to Iran's reported mortality of 6.06 out of 100,000, Trump asked, "Does anybody believe this number?"

Trump then pointed at China's reported mortality rate of 0.33 per 100,000 people, and questioned, "Does anybody believe this number?" China's statistic was the only country on the slide that had an asterisk next to it.

Birx said China has a "moral obligation" to provide credible COVID-19 information to the rest of the world.

"I put China on there so you could see how basically unrealistic this could be," Birx said. "When highly-developed health care delivery systems of the United Kingdom and France and Belgium, Italy and Spain, with extraordinary doctors and nurses and equipment, have case mortality rates [percentages] in the 20s and up to 45 in Belgium, which has an extraordinary competent health care delivery system and then China at 0.33?"

Belgium has the highest mortality rate in the world with 45.2 fatalities per 100,000, followed by Spain with 42.81, and then Italy with 37.64. The US mortality rate is 11.24 per 100,000, which Birx said is half to a third of other countries.

President Trump implied that China is lying about their coronavirus figures, and said that China has more coronavirus cases and death that the US.

"China's number one. China's number one by a lot. It's not even close," Trump told White House reporters on Saturday. "They're way ahead of us in terms of death. It's not even close. You know it, I know, they know. But you don't want to report it."

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