HHS Official: U.S. can’t confirm coronavirus is related to Chinese bioweapon research

In this Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, photo, medical workers transfer a new coronavirus patient at a hospital in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province. Chinese authorities on Monday reported a slight upturn in new virus cases and hundred more deaths for a total of thousands since the outbreak began two months ago. (Chinatopix via AP)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 2:05 PM PT — Tuesday, February 18, 2020

A top Trump administration official recently shot down rumors suggesting the coronavirus is a Chinese bioweapon. While speaking to reporters at an event in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, the assistant secretary for health said they currently have no information to prove it is a manufactured virus.

Admiral Brett Giroir’s response came after members of Congress questioned the claim by China that the disease came from an animal at a market in Wuhan. The Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary went on to say health officials are trying to confirm that information amid work toward a cure.

“What we have done with our policies is we’ve bought time and time is really important,” he stated. “We have a very good diagnostic test devised by the CDC and you know there were some things that needed to be worked out in some of the controls, but it is a good diagnostic test.”

The Trump administration reportedly offered to send scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to study the virus in China more than a month ago, but Chinese leaders have yet to approve.

So far, the coronavirus has spread to more than 71,000 people globally and has killed nearly 2,000 people in China.

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French officials confirm first coronavirus death in Europe

French lab scientists in hazmat gear inserting liquid in test tube manipulate potentially infected patient samples at Pasteur Institute in Paris, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 7:00 AM PT — Saturday, February 15, 2020

Officials from the French Health Ministry reported an 80-year-old Chinese tourist succumbed to the coronavirus on Saturday, marking the first virus-related death in Europe since the outbreak began. Up to this point, the only deaths outside of China have been reported in Hong Kong, Japan and the Philippines.

The man’s daughter also contracted the virus, but is expected to be released soon. The man and his daughter were both from the Hubei province in China, which officials are calling the epicenter of the outbreak.

“He was hospitalized at the Bichat Hospital under strict isolation measures on January 25th,” stated Health Minister Agnès Buzyn. “His condition deteriorated rapidly, he was in a critical state for several days and he was in intensive care.”

France has confirmed 11 cases of coronavirus so far.

French lab scientists are silhouetted working in a lab at Pasteur Institute in Paris, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Meanwhile, President Trump has applauded his administration for its efforts to contain the coronavirus. The president shared a poll during his remarks to the National Border Patrol Council on Friday, which said a majority of American voters approve of his handling of the virus.

This came after he previously received criticism for temporarily banning residents of the Hubei province.

“’61 percent of the voters approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus,’” stated President Trump. “I was criticized by a lot of people at the beginning because we were the first, we’d never done it before, we closed our borders to certain areas.”

As of Friday night, there are 15 people in the U.S. infected with the virus. The president said many of them are getting better and reiterated his theory the virus could weaken as the weather gets warmer.

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Calif. officials confirm 11th case of coronavirus in U.S.

FILE – In this illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (CDC via AP, File)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 7:14 AM PT — Monday, February 3, 2020

Health officials in California confirmed an 11th case of coronavirus in the U.S. On Sunday, authorities from both Santa Clara County and San Benito County confirmed three new cases of the deadly virus.

Two of those people were husband and wife in San Benito. Neither of them have left the house since finding out they have the virus. In the meantime, a family in Santa Clara has been quarantined after a woman sought medical help after returning from a trip to Wuhan, China, which is where the virus was first detected.

Authorities are still not sure how the coronavirus spreads from person-to-person.

“There has been some question at this point whether people who are not symptomatic, but infected, can spread this even before they develop symptoms — we don’t know the answer to that,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, health officer in San Benito County. “The CDC is looking into that and trying to figure out, with the information our researchers are doing, whether indeed you can spread it.”

This comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced more flights to evacuate American citizens from virus-stricken China. He made the announcement during a news conference Sunday, while meeting with Uzbekistan’s prime minister. The announcement comes after nearly 200 Americans were evacuated from Wuhan, China last week and placed under a 14 day federal quarantine.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a joint news conference with Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov following the talks in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (AP Photo)

Secretary Pompeo said the flights will be scheduled within the next couple of days and the U.S. may bring back citizens from other countries as well. He made the following comments regarding the move:

“Yes, we have a handful more flights that will be heading to China to bring Americans back home from Hubei Province. The exact timing of those, we’re still coordinating with the Chinese government. We anticipate that they will happen in the next handful of days and we’ll return those American citizens. We may well end up bringing some citizens back from other countries as well. We’re working through the details on that.”

Moving forward, U.S. officials will continue to work closely with the Chinese government to resolve the coronavirus global epidemic. So far, the virus has killed over 360 people and infected over 17,500 worldwide.

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Officials confirm eighth case of coronavirus in U.S.

Employee Cynthia Bao, who is pregnant wears a protective mask to avoid getting sick, as she interacts with customers at the Beyond Services notary in Alhambra, Calif., Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 1:18 PM PT — Saturday, February 1, 2020

An eighth case of the deadly coronavirus has been discovered in the United States. On Friday, officials confirmed a man in Massachusetts contracted the virus after visiting Wuhan, China.

The man sought care and has been quarantined since returning to the states. Those whom he’s had contact with are also being monitored for symptoms.

This came after officials in northern California confirmed the seventh coronavirus case in the nation.

“Earlier today, the CDC notified us that a resident of our county is confirmed to have the novel coronavirus,” stated Dr. Sarah Cody. “As you know, this is the first case in Santa Clara County and in the Bay Area.”

The Santa Clara resident had also traveled to Wuhan and tested positive for the illness upon his return home. Officials said anyone who made contact with him will be quarantined for 14 days.

Medical workers in protective suits move a coronavirus patient into an isolation ward at the Second People’s Hospital in Fuyang in central China’s Anhui Province, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020. (Chinatopix via AP)

The Trump administration declared a public health emergency in the U.S. on Friday amid the rising number of coronavirus cases. The World Health Organization has also declared the outbreak a global health emergency in the wake of its rapid spread.

“The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China, but because of what is happening in other countries,” explained WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “The greatest concern is for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, which are ill prepared to deal with it.”

So far, over 250 people have died and more than 12,000 have been infected worldwide.

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