China is still withholding information from the United States about the novel coronavirus and more must be done to "press them to share," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday.
"All nations around the world need to cooperate to understand this virus and to get it under control," Esper said on Fox News' "America's Newsroom." "We're just simply not seeing what we need to see from China right now."
Had China been more transparent earlier and shared data, there would have been a greater understanding of the virus and how to deal with it.
Meanwhile, Esper said he wouldn't comment on investigations going on to determine more about the origins of the virus, but he thinks "most people believe it began naturally. It was organic, if you will."
"In due course, once we get through the pandemic, there will be time to look back and ascertain what happened, and make sure we have a better understanding so we can prevent this in the future," he added.
On Tuesday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said intelligence agencies are investigating whether the coronavirus may have leaked from a Chinese lab in Wuhan, the city where the pandemic is generally thought to have begun.
Esper also said Wednesday the Department of Defense is doing its best to protect members of the military from the virus.
"Going back to 30 January was when I issued my first guidance to the troops with regard to how to protect themselves," said Esper. "We've issued new guidelines from there, another seven or eight. We restricted movement all around the world to include the United States and we've taken a number of measures to protect our people."
Out of a force of 2.2 million, 2,500 military members are infected with COVID-19, "relatively a small number," said Esper, and he thinks that's because of the measures taken early on.
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