The United States has to be guarded in making any assessment, pro or con, about the numbers and facts coming out of China about the novel coronavirus, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNN.
"Some of the data issues might just be the chaos of a public health crisis," Azar said, adding that it’s important for the World Health Organization to hold China to account for transparency and cooperation.
Azar reiterated the need to send experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to China, but did not know when that would happen. The CDC first offered to send its experts to China on Jan. 6.
"It's dependent on the Chinese to make their decisions and facilitate that," Azar said. "The World Health Organization, we believe, has secured agreement to deploy a WHO team with our US public health experts as part of that team. We are ready to go and we are waiting for final clearance from the Chinese government to make that happen."
Azar defended the administration's policy that bans foreign nationals who have visited China in the past 14 days from entering the country, saying the Unite States has "limited public health resources" and needs to prioritize citizens who are returning from China.
“Once they have been out of China for that 14 day incubation period they are welcome, as always, into the United States,” Azar said.