Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) claimed on Thursday that the coronavirus epidemic spreading across China is worse than the country is willing to admit.
“There was a 28% increase in coronavirus cases overnight in China,” Cotton wrote in a Twitter post. “Make no mistake, though: these aren’t ‘new’ cases. Just what China is willing to admit. It’s much worse.”
By Thursday morning over 7,700 cases of the virus were confirmed worldwide, mostly in mainland China, while 68 cases were recorded in other locations around the world. 170 people have died from the virus so far.
Cotton has repeatedly pushed for a travel ban to China due to concerns over the spread of the virus. On Tuesday Cotton sent a letter to members of President Trump’s cabinet, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging the administration to enact a travel ban.
“As of [Tuesday] morning, China has reported that the Wuhan coronavirus has infected more than 4,500 people and killed more than 100,” Cotton wrote in the letter. “But the real number is likely far higher — perhaps in the hundreds of thousands — given the Chinese Communist Party’s long history of covering up and minimizing these crises.”
On Friday Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) himself called for a ban on U.S.-China travel as the epidemic spread.
The World Health Organization will meet on Thursday to determine whether to announce a global-health emergency. W.H.O. director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has praised China’s response to the outbreak.
“I was struck by the determination of Chinese leadership & it’s people to end the new coronavirus outbreak,” Dr. Tedros wrote on Twitter.