Trump blames China for coronavirus pandemic: ‘The world is paying a very big price for what they did’

President Donald Trump emphatically blamed China for the coronavirus pandemic Thursday, and again made a point of using the term “Chinese virus.”

“The world is paying a very big price for that they did,” Trump said, referring to his claim that Chinese officials did not fully share information sooner about the coronavirus outbreak after it began in China.

“It could have been stopped right where it came from, China,” Trump said at a White House news conference.

He argued that American officials would have been able to act faster if China’s government had fully shared information about the outbreak, which began around the city of Wuhan.

“It would have been much better if we had known about this a number of months earlier,” the president said.

Two months ago, Trump praised China’s response to the coronavirus, saying that country “has been working very hard” to contain the virus, and writing in a tweet that, “the United states greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency.”

But in recent days, Trump has repeatedly called the coronavirus the “Chinese virus,” and did so again at the beginning of his news conference.

His habit of doing so has drawn strong criticism from Chinese officials and from a number of U.S. politicians, including former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Flanked by members of the Coronavirus Task Force, U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news briefing on the latest development of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House March 19, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

During an interview Wednesday on CNBC’s “Fast Money,” Hayman Capital Management founder Kyle Bass said that referring to the virus as the “Wuhan flu” or other terms noting its Chinese origin is warranted because of a long-standing practice of popularly naming pandemics after their perceived point of origin, such as the Spanish flu and West Nile virus.

“If we start naming diseases after numbers, we’re never going to remember what kind of disease it is,” Bass said.

He said the Chinese government has “propagandized” by asking people to refer to the current outbreak as COVID-19 or coronavirus.

“We can call it whatever we want to call it. I’m not going to call it what the Chinese government wants me to call it,” Bass said.

Earlier Wednesday, when asked about Trump calling the coronavirus the Chinese virus, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of World Health Organization’s emergencies program, said, “Viruses no know borders and they don’t care about your ethnicity, the color of your skin or how much money you have in the bank.”

“So it’s really important we be careful in the language we use lest it lead to the profiling of individuals associated with the virus,” Ryan said.

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