China Blames U.S. For Promoting Fears Among General Public Over Coronavirus

China accused the U.S. Monday of whipping up panic over a fast-spreading coronavirus with travel restrictions and evacuations as Chinese shares plunged on the first day back from the extended Lunar New Year break.

The death toll in China from the newly recognized virus, which began in Wuhan, capital of Hubei, grew to 361 as of Sunday, up 57 from the previous day, the National Health Commission mentioned.

A UN health agency WHO last week announced the flu-like virus a global emergency, and it has since spread to 23 other nations and areas, with the first death outside of China reported on Sunday, that of a 44-year-old Chinese man who died in the Philippines after traveling from Wuhan.

Wuhan and some other cities stay in a virtual lockdown with travel severely restricted, and China is facing rising international isolation.

China accused the U.S. of promoting fear by removing its nationals out and restricting travel instead of providing significant help. Connections between the two sides had begun to recover after a protracted and bruising trade conflict.

Washington has “unceasingly manufactured and spread panic”, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters, noting that the WHO had suggested against trade and travel barriers.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking in Geneva, again said travel bans had been unnecessary.

Chinese official Li Song stated the global community needed to deal with the new virus epidemic objectively, fairly, and not “intentionally create panic” among the general public.

Li stated China had shared information about the virus with self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as sovereign territory; however, he criticized the Taiwanese officials for what he described as their “lies and reasons” for not attending WHO conferences.