Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott is warning the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that it should not trust China to provide important information about the deadly outbreak of the coronavirus there and should be vigilant in tracking prospects of cases in the United States.
Scott, a frequent and staunch critic of China, wrote in a letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield Wednesday that China, the source of a coronavirus outbreak that has infected hundreds and killed some, “does not play straight with us.”
“The United States cannot risk an outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus. We cannot put our citizens at risk, and we must do everything we can to contain any cases,” Scott wrote.
One case has been reported in the United States in a man who returned home to Washington state after traveling in China.
“We all must be on high alert,” he said.
The Associated Press, citing the World Health Organization and other sources, said there have been reports of at least 509 coronavirus cases in China and at least 17 deaths from the virus as of Wednesday.
“There has already been human-to-human transmission and infection of medical workers,” Li Bin, deputy director of the China National Health Commission, said at a news conference with health experts, as reported by the AP. “Evidence has shown that the disease has been transmitted through the respiratory tract and there is the possibility of viral mutation.”
The outbreak is centered in the city of Wuhan, in the province of Hubei, but has spread to other parts of China and at least five other countries.
Scott demanded answers to several questions he posed to Redfield:
— How did you become aware that the individual in the United States was infected?
— Can you outline the steps you are taking to coordinate with state and local health authorities?
— Do you have sufficient resources to control the spread of the coronavirus?
— How does the federal government enforce screenings at ports of entry, and what is the criteria to screen an individual?
— How does the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plan to achieve 100% screening of individuals who have traveled to or from Wuhan?
— When will this be achieved?
— How does the CDC ensure the information coming from China is accurate and up-to-date on the size and scope of their epidemic?
Considering China’s position as a global adversary and their general unwillingness to share information, Scott is urging the CDC to take extra precautions against the spread of this deadly virus, Scott’s office stated in a news release.