US officials have claimed that China covered up the extent of the new Coronavirus outbreak and hid details about how contagious the disease is, in order to hoard medical supplies. A four-page Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intelligence report dated May 1 revealed that Chinese leaders "intentionally concealed the severity" of the pandemic from the world in early January.

"We further assess the Chinese Government attempted to hide its actions by denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying provision of its trade data," the report also added.

Coronavirus
Workers of Junjiang Industrial Limited Company package medical gloves in Yilong New District at Bouyei-Miao Autonomous Prefecture of Qianxinan in southwest China's Guizhou Province, Feb. 21, 2020. Xinhua/IANS

The four-page Department of Homeland Security report

Obtained by The Associated Press, the report claims that in January 2020, prior to the sharing of details about the novel Coronavirus outbreak with the World Health Organization (WHO), China dramatically increased its imports and decreased the export operations of medical supplies.

The report adds that in the same month China increased its import of surgical face masks by 278 percent, surgical gown by 72 percent and surgical gloves by 32 percent. At that time Beijing also limited its global export of medical products -- surgical gloves by 48 percent, face masks by 48 percent, surgical gowns by 71 percent, medical ventilators by 45 percent, thermometers by 53 percent, intubator kits by 56 percent and cotton balls and swabs by 58 percent.

It should be mentioned that while CCP hid the efforts by merging its trade figures for the first two months of the year, there was a suspicious delay in releasing trade data. Marked as "for official use only," the report revealed that China attempted to cover up doing so by "denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying the provision of its trade data."

It also added that Beijing did not inform the WHO that the SARS-CoV-2 "was a contagion" for much of January so it could order medical supplies from abroad and then China's imports of face masks and surgical gowns and gloves increased sharply.

Coronavirus
A worker of Junjiang Industrial Limited Company arranges disposable surgical gowns in Yilong New District at Bouyei-Miao Autonomous Prefecture of Qianxinan in southwest China's Guizhou Province, Feb. 21, 2020. Xinhua/IANS

China Coronavirus controversy

It should be mentioned that this revelation came while the Trump administration continues to criticise China for the role it played in terms of the Coronavirus pandemic that killed over 247,000 people and infected more than 3.5 million individuals. On Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that that there is no doubt that Beijing was responsible for the spread of disease and must be held accountable.

In addition, Pompeo mentioned that there was "a significant amount of evidence" that the new Coronavirus emerged from a Chinese laboratory, but did not dispute US intelligence agencies' conclusion that it was not man-made.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Friday, May 1, said that the US intelligence community was investigating the possibility that the virus had escaped somehow from a laboratory in China's Wuhan, where COVID-19 was first identified.