JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is suing the Chinese government, his office announced Tuesday.

In the lawsuit, Schmitt claims Chinese officials' actions to suppress information on COVID-19 in December led to harsh effects in Missouri.

Eric Schmitt

(AP Photo/Jim Slater)

The lawsuit, filed this morning in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri says, “During the critical weeks of the initial outbreak, Chinese authorities deceived the public, suppressed crucial information, arrested whistleblowers, denied human-to-human transmission in the face of mounting evidence, destroyed critical medical research, permitted millions of people to be exposed to the virus, and even hoarded personal protective equipment (“PPE”)—thus causing a global pandemic that was unnecessary and preventable.”

According to the lawsuit, by late December, Chinese health officials had serious evidence of human-to-human transmission. Despite the evidence of  transmission, Chinese health officials did not report the outbreak to the World Health Organization until December 31. When Chinese authorities did inform the WHO of the outbreak, they denied the potential for human-to-human transmission. 

"COVID-19 has done irreparable damage to countries across the globe, causing sickness, death, economic disruption, and human suffering. In Missouri, the impact of the virus is very real - thousands have been infected and many have died, families have been separated from dying loved ones, small businesses are shuttering their doors, and those living paycheck to paycheck are struggling to put food on their table," said Attorney General Schmitt. “The Chinese government lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of COVID-19, silenced whistleblowers, and did little to stop the spread of the disease. They must be held accountable for their actions.”

The lawsuit reflects the negative impact that COVID-19 has had on Missourians. From the unprecedented number of jobless claims, the impact on Missouri's unemployment rate, and the impact on the state's budget.

For more on the lawsuit, read more here. 

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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