A whistleblower within China’s health care system, describing himself as a “patriot” bent on uncovering the truth about the original COVID-19 outbreak, shared a surprising report showing how poorly the epidemic was handled from the start.
The health care worker shared a 117-page document from the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, titled “Internal Document, Please Maintain Confidentiality”, with CNN. The network subsequently verified the document with six separate experts.
It appears that early reports from China about the spread of the Coronavirus from Wuhan were not widely reported.
On February 10, the same day that President Xi Jinping spoke to hospital staff in the besieged city from the safety of Beijing, authorities reported 2,478 new cases.
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That number could bring the total outbreak to more than 40,000 – but the leaked files show that there were already 5,918 new cases on February 10, more than double what was reported to the public.
The report also provides new information about how officials in China are handling the new cases. It took, on average, 23.3 days from the time a patient began experiencing symptoms until the patient’s confirmed condition was reported, according to the CNN report.
Experts say that would have made it extremely difficult to provide accurate advice when the only data was available three weeks ago.
The report is likely to increase the anger of China, which has confirmed that it has been open and transparent about the outbreak from Wuhan after December 1, 2019, when the first case was discovered.
In June, the State Council of China informed the public that it was sincere and had nothing to hide.
“While making all-out efforts to contain the virus, China has also acted with a strong sense of responsibility towards humanity, its people, future generations, and the international community,” the council said in a white paper.
You have provided information on COVID-19 in a completely professional and effective manner. “It has released reliable and detailed information as soon as possible on a regular basis, thus responding effectively to public concern and building public consensus.”
The Australian government was among a number of Western countries that have called for an investigation into the origin of the Coronavirus in Wuhan.
Secretary of State Maryse Payne told ABC Insiders In April Australia will press hard for an independent investigation. Two days later, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the WHO needed the powers of “weapons inspectors” to get to the bottom of what happened in Wuhan.
What followed led to an unprecedented diplomatic rift and strained relations between the two countries – a dispute that reached its climax this week when Mr Morrison demanded an official apology after pictorial fabrications about Australia’s alleged war crimes by a Chinese official on Twitter.
Calls for the investigation prompted China to crack down on Australian exports, including beef, barley, seafood, timber and wine.
But the World Health Assembly eventually endorsed a proposal – co-sponsored by Australia, China and 135 other countries – calling for a “thorough, independent and impartial” investigation into the origins of the global crisis and dealing with it at the starting point.
Yanzhong Huang of the Council on Foreign Relations told CNN that the leaked document showed “bureaucratic and politically motivated errors” in dealing with the outbreak.
Any investigation will likely examine how authorities in Wuhan handled whistleblowers, Doctor Li Wenliang, who spoke about the potential global consequences of the novel coronavirus outbreak in December and was accused of spreading misinformation.
The 33-year-old was arrested from Wuhan Central Hospital after warning about the outbreak on social media platform WeChat. He was only allowed a warning to be diagnosed with COVID-19 on January 31. He died on February 7 and was awarded a posthumous award for his work helping fight the virus.
Johns Hopkins University has reported more than 63 million cases of COVID-19 around the world since the outbreak in Wuhan. Of these, over 13 million are in the United States.
The death toll in the world jumped to 1475851 on Wednesday morning.
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