Coronavirus entered New York not from China but from Europe: Andrew Cuomo

The deadly virus outbreak has created a major stir around the world and the US is the most affected nation

The New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pointed out research on Friday that stated that strains of the novel coronavirus or COVI-19 entered the state from Europe and not from China and mentioned that the travel bans enacted by the US President Donald Trump were too late to contain the spread.

The governor cited the research of the Northeastern University estimating that over 10,000 New Yorkers might have got the disease by the time the state confirmed its first case on March 1 and mentioned that he believes Italy was the possible source.

New York Governor believes the travel restrictions enacted were not on time

Andrew Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo Wikimedia Commons

The governor noted that Trump ordered a ban on travel from China on Feb. 2, more than a month after news reports had emerged about an outbreak in the city of Wuhan, and decided to restrict travel from Europe the following month. By that time, the virus had spread widely in the United States, he said.

"We closed the front door with the China travel ban, which was right," Cuomo told a briefing. "But we left the back door open because the virus had left China by the time we did the China travel ban." With his comments, Cuomo thrust himself into a heated and politically fraught debate about when and how the virus first entered the United States and whether officials like Trump and himself could have saved more lives if they had acted sooner.

Cuomo defended his own actions

Cuomo defended his own actions by pointing to the 19 days between New York's first confirmed case and his lockdown order, arguing that he had moved faster than any other state. He also said Trump, who last week halted US contributions to the World Health Organization after accusing it of promoting China's "disinformation" about the outbreak, was right to question whether the WHO responded properly to the crisis.

But Cuomo took aim at what he described as a slow reaction by the country's leaders, even as increasingly disturbing reports emerged out of China in January and February about how quickly the virus was spreading and killing people. Cuomo said as many as 2.2 million people took flights from Europe to New York and New Jersey airports in those two months, many of them likely carrying the highly contagious respiratory illness COVID-19.

Governor said it was too early to reopen his state

"We acted two months after the China outbreak. When you look back, does anyone think the virus was still in China waiting for us to act two months later?" Cuomo said. "The horse had already left the barn by the time we moved." Cuomo said it was important that the country learns from the mistakes that were made because the virus could surge again in autumn or a new virus could emerge. "It will happen again. Bank on it. Let's not put our head in the sand," he said.

He said it was too early to reopen his state, which is in lockdown until at least May 15. He said the three-day rolling average for people newly admitted for COVID-19 was holding stubbornly around 1,300 per day, a worrisome sign. But on a positive note, he said hospitalizations for COVID-19 totalled 14,258 on Thursday, declining for the tenth straight day. He reported 422 additional deaths, the lowest daily total since March 31.

(With agency inputs)

Related topics : Coronavirus