US intelligence agencies have been following the spread of the new novel coronavirus, COVID-19, globally and are watching how governments respond to the infectious disease, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing sources familiar with the matter.
The spy agencies were reportedly giving special attention to how India would overcome a widespread outbreak, though there have only been a few cases of the virus registered in the South Asian country.
One of the sources reportedly said that the available countermeasures in India and the possibility of the virus spreading given India's population density were a source of great concern to the agencies.
The US concerns also include the situation in Iran, where the death toll from the coronavirus had risen to 26, by far the highest number outside China. Earlier on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that his country was “deeply concerned” Tehran may have covered up details about the spread of the coronavirus.
Iran’s efforts to counter the virus were seen by the US administration as “ineffective”, as the Islamic Republic only has minimal capabilities to respond to the outbreak, according to a source, cited by Reuters.
The intelligence agencies have been monitoring the spread of the illness in some developing countries with concerns about the weak ability of governments in those countries to respond to the outbreak.
“The [US House of Representatives Intelligence] Committee has received a briefing from the IC (intelligence community) on coronavirus, and continues to receive updates on the outbreak on a daily basis", an official from the House Intelligence Committee told Reuters. “Addressing the threat has both national security and economic dimensions, requiring a concerted government-wide effort and the IC is playing an important role in monitoring the spread of the outbreak, and the worldwide response”.
According to the news outlet, the US Senate Intelligence Committee has been receiving daily updates about the coronavirus epidemic.
Overall, the United States has registered 61 cases in the country, including 46 people who were repatriated from abroad.