As a country, we’ve got our hands full right now. But while we’re sitting in various forms of self-quarantine, we — and a lot of other people around the world — will have a lot of time to read about the Chinese government destroying samples and suppressing information about the coronavirus in December:
Chinese laboratories identified a mystery virus as a highly infectious new pathogen by late December last year, but they were ordered to stop tests, destroy samples and suppress the news, a Chinese media outlet has revealed.
A regional health official in Wuhan, centre of the outbreak, demanded the destruction of the lab samples that established the cause of unexplained viral pneumonia on January 1. China did not acknowledge there was human-to-human transmission until more than three weeks later.
The detailed revelations by Caixin Global, a respected independent publication, provide the clearest evidence yet of the scale of the cover-up in the crucial early weeks when the opportunity was lost to control the outbreak.
And the Chinese government’s attempt to silence doctors warning others about the disease:
As word of a mysterious virus mounted, Li Wenliang shared suspicions in a private chat with his fellow medical school graduates.
The doctor said that seven people seemed to have contracted SARS — the respiratory illness that spread from China to more than two dozen countries and left hundreds dead in the early 2000s. One patient was quarantined at his hospital in Wuhan, China, Li said. He urged people to be careful.
Li and seven other doctors were quickly summoned by Chinese authorities for propagating “rumors” about SARS-like cases in the area — but their warnings were prescient. Soon, health officials worldwide would be scrambling to combat a novel virus with a striking genetic resemblance to SARS.
And the Chinese authorities spending January “denying it could spread between humans — something doctors had known was happening since late December — and went ahead with a Chinese Lunar New Year banquet involving tens of thousands of families in Wuhan.” Doctors say that in Wuhan, people who had no connection to that Hua’nan market were among the first showing the symptoms — suggesting that from the beginning, Chinese authorities should have understood that human-to-human transmission was already happening.
Even by the Chinese government’s own account of events, President Xi Jinping knew about the disease for two weeks before making any public comments about it.
Hawkish Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., issued a menacing statement on Thursday vowing that the United States “will hold accountable those who inflicted” the coronavirus on the world, seeming to suggest that the Chinese government was behind the pandemic.
“The Wuhan coronavirus is a grave challenge to our great nation,” said Cotton, who announced he is temporarily closing his Washington office as a precautionary measure. “We are a great people. We rise to every challenge, we vanquish every foe, and we come through adversity even better than before.”
In a tweet, the Arkansas Republican left no doubt that his statement was directed at China:
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) March 12, 2020
Cuomo wants “all states to be treated the same.” But all states aren’t the same. Some are being hit hard by the Chinese Virus, some are being hit practically not at all. New York is a very big “hotspot”, West Virginia has, thus far, zero cases. Andrew, keep politics out of it….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2020