COVID-19 has now killed over 164,049 globally, 2.3 million infected

New York (ANN)-US president Donald Trump has warned China that it should face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for the coronavirus pandemic.

“It could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn’t, and the whole world is suffering because of it,” Trump said in his daily White House briefing on Sunday, as he ratcheted up criticism of Beijing over its handling of the outbreak.

“If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake. But if they were knowingly responsible, yeah, I mean, then sure there should be consequences,” he added.

The US president further said the question now is whether what happened with the coronavirus was “a mistake that got out of control, or was it done deliberately?”

“There’s a big difference between those two,” he said.

The new coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease known as COVID-19, first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, incrementally affecting the rest of the world.

The virus has so far infected over 2,386,478 people worldwide, and over 164,049 have died, according to a running count by

Trump has repeatedly tried to link the virus to China, calling it the “China Virus” or the “Wuhan Virus.”

The US president and his aides have accused Beijing of a lack of transparency about the viral outbreak. Trump has also suspended aid to the World Health Organization (WHO), accusing it of being “China-centric.”

Analysts say Trump, who is seeking re-election in November, is trying to single out Beijing to help deflect from the shortcomings of his own response to the pandemic.

The president is under fire for his handling of the crisis, as the US has become the worst-hit nation in the world with 748,209 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 39,856 deaths.

Meanwhile, Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force questioned China’s data, saying the country’s death rate per 100,000 people was far below major European countries and the US.

She also called China’s numbers “unrealistic” and said it had a “moral obligation” to provide credible information.

On Sunday, China reported just 16 new confirmed coronavirus cases, its lowest number since March 17 and down from 27 a day earlier. No new deaths were reported.

Birx further praised European countries for alerting the US to the seriousness of the virus, including its significant impact on people with underlying health symptoms.