Robert O’Brien, President Trump’s national security adviser, blasted the Chinese government for their response to the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, saying they “covered up” the outbreak and “probably” cost the world “two months to respond.”
“There’s lots of open source reporting from China, from Chinese nationals that the doctors involved were either silenced or, or put in isolation or that sort of thing so word of this virus could not get out,” O’Brien told a crowd at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
“If we had those and been able to sequence the virus and had the cooperation necessary from the Chinese, had a WHO team been on the ground, had a CDC team which we’d offered been on the ground, I think we could’ve dramatically curtailed what happened both in China and what’s now happening across the world,” he continued.
O’Brien also urged Americans to heed the warnings of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention and take precautions to prevent further spread of coronavirus.
“If you’ve got a coworker who sneezes, send them home,” he said, adding that people should practice social distancing, wash their hands routinely, and take other protective measures.
O’Brien, whose speech notably drew a smaller-than-usual crowd amid fears of crowded places, described the President’s response to the outbreak in the US as “courageous,” particularly for his decision to temporarily freeze air travel to highly affected areas.
The coronavirus has currently spread to six continents, roiled financial and oil markets and have led to the cancellation of events, classes and other gatherings across the country.