The US state of Missouri is suing the Chinese government and other top institutions for the role they played in the coronavirus pandemic and the effects it has had on the state, in which at least 6,105 people have been infected and at least 229 have died from the virus.

The state filed a lawsuit in which it is accusing Beijjing of covering up information, silencing whistleblowers and doing little to stop the spread of the disease, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced Tuesday.

The lawsuit claims that “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—thus causing a global pandemic that was unnecessary and preventable”.

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“Thousands have been infected and many have died, families have been separated from loved ones, small businesses are shuttering their doors, and those living paycheck-to-paycheck are struggling to put food on their table”, Schmitt said.

“In mid-January, on or around January 16, despite knowing the risks of doing so, Wuhan leaders hosted a potluck dinner for 40,000 residents, increasing the potential spread of the virus”, the lawsuit says, adding that “defendants allowed these massive public gatherings and massive exodus from Wuhan despite knowing the risks of COVID-19, including the risk of human-to-human transmission”.

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It also outlines how officials initially cracked down on medical professionals who posted information about the virus.

China’s foreign affairs ministry called the lawsuit a “malicious abuse”: “Such abuses are not conducive to epidemic prevention and control in the United States, and also run counter to the current international anti-epidemic cooperation”, the ministry said.

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China has insisted that the virus originated in the wet market in Wuhan city, but it was later revealed that the market did not sell bats, and the first patient, as well as multiple other early cases, did not have any connection to the market.

Last month, a spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry said on Twitter that the virus had originated in the United States and was brought to China by the US military.

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