Whistleblower exposes China’s COVID lies
A whistleblower within China's healthcare system who described themselves as a "patriot" intent on exposing the truth about COVID-19's original outbreak has shared a bombshell report that shows just how poorly the pandemic was handled from the start.
The healthcare worker shared a 117-page document from the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, labelled "internal document, please keep confidential", with CNN. The network later had the document verified by six separate experts.
It shows early reports from China about the spread of coronavirus from the city of Wuhan were drastically under-reported.
On February 10, the same day President Xi Jinping spoke to hospital staff in the besieged city from the safety of Beijing, authorities reported there had been 2478 new cases.
That figure would take the total outbreak to more than 40,000 - but the leaked files show there were actually 5918 new cases on February 10, more than double what was reported to the public.
The report also offers new information about how officials in China processed new cases. It took, on average, 23.3 days from the time a patient began experiencing symptoms to that patient being reported as a confirmed case, according to the CNN report.
Experts say it would have made it extremely difficult to give accurate advice when the only data available was three weeks old.
The report is likely to further anger China which has maintained it was open and transparent about the outbreak from Wuhan after December 1, 2019, when the first case was discovered.
In June, China's State Council told the public it had been truthful and had nothing to hide.
"While making an all-out effort to contain the virus, China has also acted with a keen sense of responsibility to humanity, its people, posterity, and the international community," the Council said in a White Paper.
"It has provided information on COVID-19 in a thoroughly professional and efficient way. It has released authoritative and detailed information as early as possible on a regular basis, thus effectively responding to public concern and building public consensus."
The Australian Government has been among a number of Western nations calling for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus in Wuhan.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne told the ABC's Insiders program in April that Australia would push hard for an independent inquiry. Two days later, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the World Health Organisation needed "weapons inspector" powers to get to the bottom of what happened in Wuhan.
What followed led to a diplomatic row and a souring of relations between the two countries not seen before - a row that reached a crescendo this week when Mr Morrison demanded an official apology after a graphic slur about Australia's alleged war crimes by a Chinese official on Twitter.
The calls for an inquiry led China to crack down hard on Australian exports including beef, barley, seafood, timber and wine.
But the World Health Assembly eventually passed a motion - co-sponsored by Australia, China and 135 other nations - calling for a "comprehensive, independent and impartial" investigation into the origins and handling of the global crisis at its starting point.
Yanzhong Huang from the Council on Foreign Relations, told CNN the leaked document shows "bureaucratic and politically-motivated errors" were made in handling the outbreak.
Any inquiry will likely examine how authorities in Wuhan handled whistleblower, Doctor Li Wenliang, who spoke up about the possible worldwide consequences of a new coronavirus outbreak in December and was accused of spreading disinformation.
The 33-year-old from Wuhan Central Hospital was arrested after warning of the outbreak on social media platform WeChat. He was let off with a warning only to be diagnosed with COVID-19 on January 31. He died on February 7 and received a posthumous award for his work helping to fight the virus.
Johns Hopkins University reports there have been more than 63 million cases of COVID-19 around the world since the outbreak in Wuhan. Of those, there are more than 13 million in the US.
The global death toll had climbed to 1,475,851 by Wednesday morning.
Originally published as Whistleblower exposes China's COVID lies