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Chinese men wear protective masks as they ride an escalator outside Beijing station on March 13, 2020 in Beijing, China.

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Canadian Health Minister Patty Hadju says the federal government has no reason to believe the Chinese government is hiding the full extent of novel coronavirus infections and deaths in that country.

She also accused a journalist who asked her about the matter of fuelling conspiracy theories.

Ms. Hajdu was asked about China’s conduct in the wake of a report from Bloomberg News that said U.S. intelligence officals have told the White house Beijing has concealed the full extent of the coronavirus outbreak in China, where the novel coronavirus first appeared.

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The health minister was asked whether she trusts China’s statistics and how Canada can be assured it has accurate pandemic modelling if Beijing has been low-balling its data.

She said Canada has not seen any evidence that China has under-reporting the impact of the virus.

“There is no indication that the data that came out of China in terms of their infection rate, and their death rate, was falsified in any way,” she told reporters at an Ottawa briefing Thursday.

“In fact it you look at the death rate overall in China it’s much higher than the one we’re seeing now.”

The health minister said Canada relies on the World Health Organization to coordinate the flow of data from all countries.

Asked whether the WHO data can be considered accurate if China’s data is not, Ms. Hadju then criticized a reporter who had asked questions about the matter.

“Your question is feeding into conspiracy theories that many people have been perpetuating on the Internet,” Ms. Hajdu said. “There is no way to beat a global pandemic if we are actually not willing to work together as a globe.”

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The coronavirus outbreak began in China in late 2019 but Beijing has reported fewer cases and deaths than in the United States, which now has the world’s largest outbreak, with 214,000 confirmed cases and 4,800 deaths.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reiterated during a daily briefing in Beijing on Thursday that China has been open and transparent about the coronavirus epidemic in the country and sharply criticized U.S. officials who cast doubt on China’s disclosures.

With files from Reuters

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