Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas on Sunday accused China of lying about the severity of the coronavirus outbreak and suggested that the new disease may have originated from a biosafety super laboratory in Wuhan.
Speaking on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures, Cotton reiterated his assertion that the Chinese government has been “lying from the beginning, and they’re still lying today” about the gravity of the virus and perhaps even its origins.
“The situation is very grave in part because … China was lying from the beginning, and they’re still lying today,” the senator said. “And also because there are so many unknowns about this virus. For example, how many people one person can infect once they have the virus?”
Cotton went on to praise President Donald Trump and his administration for implementing a travel ban on flights from China to contain the virus.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, to quote Benjamin Franklin, and why the president was so smart to ban travel coming from China just a couple weeks ago, so we didn’t have more than 20,000 people landing in our country every single day from mainland China,” he said, before claiming that the “virus did not originate in the Wuhan animal market.”
“Epidemiologists who are widely respected from China who published a study … have demonstrated that several of the original cases did not have any contact with that food market,” Cotton said. “The virus went into that food market before it came out.”
The senator then suggested that coronavirus may have originated from a Chinese super laboratory, situated “just a few miles away from that food market.”
“We don’t have evidence that this disease originated there, but because of China’s duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning we need to at least ask the question,” he explained.
Cotton has previously issued similar allegations against the Chinese government. Earlier this month, he suggested that coronavirus may have originated in a super laboratory and accused China of downplaying the seriousness of the outbreak.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China’s first Biosafety Level 4 lab, researches “the most dangerous pathogens.”
Cotton’s remarks came amid the proliferation of various conspiracy theories surrounding coronavirus’ origins, one of which suggests it may have come from a laboratory tied to Beijing’s biowarfare program. In response, Facebook and other social media platforms have cracked down on the reach of posts that perpetuate these unsubstantiated allegations.
Chinese officials confirmed 2,641 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the total number of diagnosed across the mainland to roughly 66,000, with the death toll at 1,523.