Ben Wallace, British defense secretary, says China has questions to answer over coronavirus origins

Britain on Monday said China still has questions to answer about the origins of the coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 3.5 million and killed over 247,000 globally.

U.K. officials have stopped short of mentioning reports that Beijing has withheld information about the outbreak, but they called on China to be more transparent in sharing information that could be vital to finding a cure to the virus.

“Every day I get intelligence bulletins from our agencies around the world,” said U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace. “I don’t comment on individual bulletins, what I have and haven’t seen. That would be wrong.”

New intelligence documents obtained by The Associated Press show that U.S. officials believe China attempted to cover up the extent of the coronavirus outbreak and the severity of how contagious it is in an effort to stock up on medical supplies.

The documents, from a four-page Department of Homeland Security intelligence report dated May 1, said that Chinese officials “intentionally concealed the severity” of the outbreak in early January — roughly two months after the virus was born in Wuhan province.

The Trump administration has hammered Beijing with criticism that it withheld information from the world in the immediate aftermath of the virus’ outbreak. The World Health Organization has insisted that it requires information from China about its origins and spread in order to understand the virus’ spread and contribute to a vaccine.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday told ABC’s “This Week” that “there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”

He said China is directly responsible for the outbreak and suggested the country should be held accountable.

“China has a history of infecting the world, and they have a history of running substandard laboratories,” he said.

Asked if he agrees that China has to respond to questions about their knowledge of the early stages of the virus, Mr. Wallace said, “I think it does.”

“China needs to be open and transparent,” he continued, “its shortcomings but also its successes.”

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