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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic could be "repeatable" if China persists with its lack of transparency, and committed to helping Americans stuck abroad due to border closures as a result of the outbreak.
"Instead of trying to do the work to suppress the virus, which is what the world demanded, the Chinese Communist Party didn't get it right and put countless lives at risk as a result of that," Pompeo told "Hannity."
Pompeo added that the Chinese government had created a "disinformation campaign," and "wasted valuable days at the front end" after the virus was first reportedly discovered in November.
"If we don't get to the bottom of this, is this could be something that is repeatable..."
"They haven't been sufficiently transparent and the risk you find [is] if we don't get this right, if we don't get to the bottom of this, is this could be something that is repeatable," Pompeo warned. "Maybe not in this form, maybe not in this way, but transparency matters."
Pompeo's comments come just one day after China kicked out journalists from outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post in an effort to control the propaganda wars against the virus. When U.S. medical experts offered to assist China and the World Health Organization at the onset of the outbreak, they were denied entry in another attempt to limit transparency, Pompeo explained.
Pompeo also addressed the 200 Americans who are stuck in Peru and are desperately trying to figure out a way to get back home after Peru's government suspended constitutional rights such as free movement and assembly due to the pandemic – closing the borders down completely with little notice.
"The State Department is doing everything we can to protect American citizens all across the world," Pompeo said. "We know students that are in Peru, some other travelers that are there as well, other countries too that have shut down their airports, we are working to try to solve problems for each of those American citizens."
The group of strangers is communicating over the messaging platform WhatsApp and has created a spreadsheet to account for each other. According to the spreadsheet, Americans from at least 28 states are trying to figure out a way back home.
Pompeo said his team has "just learned about them over the last couple of days, and it’ll take us some amount of time," but emphasized that the president "has made clear that we are going to do everything we can to get every American home safely."
While Trump is going out of his way to call the coronavirus the "Chinese Virus," Pompeo joined the fray Monday, calling on Politburo member Yang Jiechi to push back on a tweet from the deputy director-general for the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Information Department. The deputy director-general, Lijian Zhao, tweeted that the United States military might be responsible for the coronavirus -- but provided no evidence to that effect.
"We are going to do everything we can to get every American home safely."
"Secretary Pompeo conveyed strong U.S. objections to PRC efforts to shift blame for COVID-19 to the United States," State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a Monday statement. "The secretary stressed that this is not the time to spread disinformation and outlandish rumors, but rather a time for all nations to come together to fight this common threat."
While China remains largely unhelpful in providing details of the origins of the virus and their medical findings, Pompeo said he is using his position to get to the bottom of it all.
"It’s important as America's most senior diplomat, we have an obligation to make sure we try and get this information from the Chinese Communist Party so we can help our medical professionals here in the United States, get this right and save lives for Americans and people all across the world."