A US-Chinese border spat highlighted tensions over the spread of a deadly new strain of coronavirus in the US.
In a rare public appearance on Thursday, the US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, warned the Chinese that the virus poses “grave risks” to the country and said he was “very concerned” about the health risks of the pandemic.
The outbreak has triggered a diplomatic row between the two nations, which both blame each other for the spread.
Mr Ross’s remarks followed warnings from a top health official in Beijing who said the US was likely to face “unacceptable” outbreaks.
“The US is under significant threat, as this outbreak demonstrates, and is a serious and growing threat,” Dr John Kirby, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“I am very concerned about the risks this poses to the health of US citizens and others.”
We have seen outbreaks of influenza and we know that pandemic influenza can cause very severe and devastating complications.
“The outbreak was first detected in a US medical clinic in California on January 26.
It spread rapidly, with coronaviruses, including the highly contagious influenza A(H3N2), causing more than 80,000 infections and killing more than 2,600 people in the United States.
In response, the Trump administration has been cracking down on trade with China, and Mr Ross said on Thursday the US would impose punitive tariffs on imports from China.
He warned that the US had “an obligation to defend ourselves against the threat of a pandemic”.”
There is a growing threat that we have and I’m very concerned that the spread is going to accelerate,” Mr Ross told reporters in Davo.”
Our national security is at stake and we need to protect our citizens.
“Mr Ross said the virus had “gravely threatened” US manufacturing.”
There are some products that we are importing that are not made in the USA, some of which are not produced in the U.S. and it is our responsibility to protect those products from these imports,” he said.”
That means we are going to be taking significant steps to protect American jobs.
“China and the US have not been in diplomatic relations since the end of World War II.