Continued Cover-up of the Coronavirus Epidemic in China
(Minghui.org) The ongoing coronavirus epidemic has made headlines every day.
A January 29, 2020 article published in the New England Journal of Medicine stated, “There is evidence that human-to-human transmission has occurred among close contacts since the middle of December 2019,” (“Early Transmission Dynamics in Wuhan, China, of Novel Coronavirus–Infected Pneumonia.”)
The article was written by a group of Chinese scientists who received government funding to conduct their research. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC), though, did not declare the disease transferable from human to human until January 20, 2020.
In addition, 8 physicians were punished by the Wuhan police on January 1 for talking with others about the surging epidemic. Among them, Dr. Li Wenliang from Wuhan Central Hospital was later infected and died of the virus on February 6, 2020.
The Chinese government's cover-up of the severity of the situation allowed the disease to spread far and quickly, now infecting more than 37,000 people in China and over 20 other countries. During a large-scale New Year banquet attended by over 40,000 people in Wuhan on January 19, epidemiologists and city officials told attendees and reporters that the new virus was barely infectious and was unlikely to spread between humans. However, the following day, the CCDC announced the disease transferable between people and the city was on lockdown three days later.
Information Blocking at Wuhan City
Under public condemnation for blocking critical information about the virus, Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang revealed that he was not authorized by the Central Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials in Beijing to release the information.
Sadly, this situation is not uncommon for Chinese officials. Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist for CCDC, told Global Times that CCP officials made decisions based on politics, “social stability,” economics, and issues related to the Chinese New Year. Opinion from scientific experts is only “one of the factors contributing to the decision.” This explains the CCP's epidemic control strategies. That is, politics has the highest priority, followed by stability and economy. Human life, on the other hand, appears to have little importance compared to these factors.
As a result of the delayed communication, the virus spread quickly, from city to city, and country to country. Eric Feigl-Ding, a public health researcher at Harvard University for 15 years, commented on the recent coronavirus outbreak on Twitter on January 25, 2020, “It is thermonuclear pandemic-level bad... I'm not exaggerating.”
Some Wuhan citizens have estimated that the actual number of cases is at least 10 times higher than the reported figures. Because diagnostic kits are used to track the number of new cases, distribution of the diagnostic kits is tightly restricted to lower the number of cases reported. One division chief said he had been infected, but was not allowed to receive treatment. “Community administration told me only three patients are allowed to be reported in each community,” he said. “Additional cases are ignored.”
The Epidemic Continues
Wuhan has not been alone in censoring information. A notice from the central government's coronavirus task force issued a policy on January 26 forbidding medical staff from discussing the epidemic at home or other places through conversation face to face, by telephone, text message, WeChat, Weibo (microblogging), or email. This includes new cases, therapy, control, and prevention. Anyone who violates this could be sentenced from three to seven years in prison.
This task force was launched on January 26 and most of its members are from government agencies responsible for news media control and/or “stability.” This implies that the task force’s primary function is information censorship rather than epidemic control.
Looking back at the CCP's history, it can be seen that cover-ups such as this one related to the coronavirus are quite common. For example, misinformation and deception were widely adopted during the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic, the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, as well as the persecution of Falun Gong.