Coronavirus test swab
Coronavirus test swabiStock

US officials believe China covered up the extent of the coronavirus outbreak — and how contagious the disease is — to stock up on medical supplies needed to respond to it, intelligence documents obtained Sunday by The Associated Press show.

Chinese leaders “intentionally concealed the severity” of the pandemic from the world in early January, according to the four-page Department of Homeland Security intelligence report dated May 1.

Not classified but marked “for official use only,” the DHS analysis states that, while downplaying the severity of the coronavirus, China increased imports and decreased exports of medical supplies.

It attempted to cover up doing so by “denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying provision of its trade data,” the analysis states, according to AP.

The report also says China held off informing the World Health Organization that the coronavirus “was a contagion” for much of January so it could order medical supplies from abroad — and that its imports of face masks and surgical gowns and gloves increased sharply.

Those conclusions are based on the 95% probability that China’s changes in imports and export behavior were not within normal range, according to the report.

The AP report comes hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that there is “enormous evidence” that the novel coronavirus pandemic likely originated at a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

"There's enormous evidence that that's where this began. We have said from the beginning, this virus originated in Wuhan, China. We took a lot of grief for that from the outset. But I think the whole world can see now,” Pompeo told ABC News in an interview.

On Saturday, details of a 15-page intelligence report drawn up jointly by American, British, Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand intel agencies were released, including claims the Chinese government had actively worked to hide the extent of the coronavirus pandemic in December and January.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump said he had seen evidence linking the novel coronavirus to a lab in Wuhan, China, though he would not provide further details.