Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
With nearly 800,000 coronavirus cases worldwide, intelligence agencies in the U.S. are having difficulties determining the outbreak situation in countries such as China, Russia, and North Korea, government sources told Reuters.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested last week there might be a lack of accurate information on Russia and Iran, and accused China of a disinformation campaign amid an absence of new cases, which Beijing denies.
An understanding of the COVID-19 outbreak in those countries could help the U.S. and international efforts to limit the impact of COVID-19.
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, women wearing protective masks to prevent the new coronavirus outbreak walk on a re-opened commercial street in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province on Monday.. (Shen Bohan/Xinhua via AP)
“We want to have as close an accurate, real-time understanding of where the global hotspots are and where they are evolving,” Jeremy Konyndyk, who led the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance from 2013 to 2017 and the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak, told Reuters. “The world is not going to get rid of this thing until we get rid of it everywhere.”
The three countries, including Iran, are known for having heavy state controls on information, and it’s usually tough to get intel from their closed-off leadership circles, per the news organization.
In regards to no new domestic cases in China, a government source told Reuters that “some of it may be true,” although agencies remain wary the country has the virus under control.
A resolution is even being introduced in the House and Senate calling on the head of the World Health Organization, (WHO) Tedros Adhanom, to retract statements about the Chinese government’s response to the coronavirus.
“For the first time, #China has reported no domestic #COVID19 cases yesterday,” Adhanom said. “This is an amazing achievement, which gives us all reassurance that the #coronavirus can be beaten.”
Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark. called his comments “highly misleading.”
Meanwhile, North Korea has yet to report a single case of the virus, despite sharing a border with China, while Russia cases have jumped nearly fivefold over the past week — from 436 to 1836, according to the Moscow Times.
Russia also shares a border with 14 other countries — which it closed on Monday — so determining its spread could be important to those surrounding it.
In the U.S., all 50 states plus the District of Columbia have reported confirmed cases of COVID-19, tallying over 164,610 illnesses and at least 3,170 deaths.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report