A senior White House official compared the way China handled the coronavirus issue to the concealment that the Soviet Union made of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion.

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said Beijing had known since November what was going on with the virus, which originated in Wuhan, but lied to the World Health Organization and prevented foreign experts from getting information.

“They released a virus into the world that caused America trillions of dollars in economic losses, and now we have to spend it to keep our economy alive, to keep Americans at work during this pandemic,” O’Brien told NBC television.

“The cover-up of the virus will go down in history, along with Chernobyl. Ten or 15 years later we will see a special program on HBO on this topic, ”he said, referring to a television mini-series.

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine caused a nuclear radiation that killed dozens of people in a matter of weeks and forced tens of thousands more to flee.

With much delay, Moscow finally showed the magnitude of the tragedy, of what is considered to be the worst nuclear accident in history.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly complained about China’s treatment of the coronavirus outbreak.

China has denied the allegations, and its chief diplomat on Sunday accused the United States of spreading lies.

“This is a real problem and it is costing America and the world thousands of lives because the real information was not allowed to come out,” said Mr O’Brien.

“The issue is hidden, but one day we will get to the end of it.”

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