WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump was said to have been issued 12 warnings by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) about the spread of the coronavirus in China and its implications for the US; which he apparently ignored leading to the subsequent outbreak of the pandemic in the country.
Current and former US intelligence officials told The Washington Post that Trump, in the month of January and February, had repeatedly ignored warnings conveyed in issues of the President's Daily Brief (PDB), a sensitive report that is produced before dawn each day and designed to call the president's attention to the most significant global developments and security threats.
For weeks, the PDB traced the virus's spread around the globe, made clear that China was suppressing information about the contagion's transmissibility and lethal toll, and raised the prospect of dire political and economic consequences.
The administration's first major step to arrest the spread of the virus came in late January when Trump restricted travel between the United States and China, where the virus is believed to have originated late last year.
Officials said that the COVID-19 virus was being mentioned frequently, either as one of the report's core articles or in what is known as an "executive update," for Trump's attention.
However, Trump spent much of February publicly playing down the threat while his administration failed to mobilize for a major outbreak by securing supplies of protective equipment, developing an effective diagnostic test, and preparing plans to quarantine large portions of the population, the official added.
As late as March 10, Trump said: "Just stay calm. It will go away." The next day, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.
By then, officials told the Post, the warnings in the PDB and other intelligence reports had started calling for immediate attention.
In addition to intelligence reports, Trump's top health officials and advisers were also delivering warnings on the virus through January and February, though their messages at times appeared muddled and contradictory.
But Donald Trump, who was travelling in India in February, was outraged by the alarmist tone of remarks by Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, and their perceived impact on the US stock market, the Post reported further.
The warnings conveyed in the PDB probably will be a focus of any future investigation of the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic outbreak, the report mentioned.
As on April 30th United States has reported 10,38,451 confirmed cases which includes recoveries and deaths. (Inputs: The Washington Post)