People purporting to be Wuhan, China, medics have said they were directed to cover up the deadly nature of coronavirus as early as 2019 and knew that COVID-19 was quickly spreading and would soon become a wide-reaching pandemic.
What are the details?
In a Tuesday report from the Daily Mail, the purported Wuhan medics said that they realized the disease was spreading well before the World Health Organization did.
Though the virus was reportedly rampant in December 2019, China first informed the WHO of a COVID-19-related fatality in January 2020.
“Chinese medics have been secretly filmed admitting they knew how dangerous the coronavirus was when it began to wreak havoc in Wuhan — but say they were told to lie about it,” the U.K.-based outlet reported.
The medics’ accounts, filmed “secretly” by a “citizen journalist” for the ITV documentary “Outbreak: The Virus That Shook the World,” are set to air Tuesday night.
In the documentary, the health workers said that “hospitals were told ‘not to tell the truth’ and calls to scrap Lunar New Year festivities were rejected because authorities wanted to ‘present a harmonious and prosperous society.'”
Further, one medic added, “Actually, at the end of December or beginning of January, the relative of someone I know died of this virus. Many of those living with him were also infected, including people I know.”
Another medic said, “We all felt there shouldn’t be any doubt about human-to-human transmission.”
“We knew this virus transmitted from human to human,” another medic added. “But when we attended a hospital meeting, we were told not to speak out. The provincial leaders told the hospitals not to tell the truth.”
The medics weren’t the only one to make such claims.
Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Yi-Chun Lo, who is deputy director-general of the Centers for Disease Control in Taiwan, said that the early management was a “failure.”
“The very early outbreak management was just a mess, a failure,” he said, according to the outlet. “I think the pandemic could have been avoided at the beginning if China was transparent about the outbreak, and was quick to provide necessary information to the world.”
The new documentary will surely only add further pressure on China after a WHO-backed panel on Monday said that Beijing was “too slow to respond to the outbreak,” according to the outlet, and insisted that it was “clear” that “public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China.”
The same day, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “no one should be in any doubt that this is a scientific exercise” to determine the specifics of the virus’ emergence.
“The video,” the Mail adds, “also adds to a growing body of evidence that China lied to the world about the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, allowing it to balloon into a global pandemic.”
The outlet reported that the Chinese government declined to comment for the documentary.