Back in March, I wrote a column arguing what most people already knew: China lied about the coronavirus outbreak and provided false data that downplayed just how severe it was.
Several months later, leaked documents confirm that this is exactly what happened. China deliberately concealed information about the coronavirus, underreported its case numbers, and left the world unprepared for what was to come.
These documents, obtained and verified by CNN, reveal that Chinese officials underreported case numbers in several cases and failed to diagnose new outbreaks for weeks at a time. In one internal report, local officials in Hubei province, where the virus was first detected, reported 5,918 newly detected cases on Feb. 10. Publicly, Chinese authorities reported only 2,478 new confirmed cases in Hubei.
Similarly, an internal death toll recorded on March 7 shows that 3,546 people reportedly died from COVID-19. China’s public death toll recorded only 2,986 deaths.
Another internal report from early March shows that it took Chinese officials nearly 23.3 days on average to confirm a coronavirus diagnosis after symptoms began to show. This means the actual number of positive cases was probably much higher than even China knew. Yet, Chinese authorities remained slow to act, and they did not bother to alert the rest of the world to the severity of COVID-19.
China also lied about an influenza outbreak that appears to have occurred around the same time as the coronavirus outbreak. In Hubei, specifically, influenza cases rose to 20 times the level recorded the previous year, according to the documents. Yet, the specifics about this outbreak have yet to be made public by China.
It’s not clear whether this influenza outbreak was connected to the coronavirus pandemic, but it is reasonable to assume that a 2,059% spike in influenza cases drained medical resources and accelerated the coronavirus’s spread at a time when the world should have been preparing for a global pandemic. But because China hid the extent of its influenza outbreak, and the severity of COVID-19, no one knew what to expect or how to prepare, and thousands upon thousands of people have died as a result.
China cannot be allowed to walk away from this pandemic without even facing a shred of accountability. These documents prove the Chinese Communist Party lied deliberately, endangering the lives of millions and throwing the entire world into a period of economic stagnation. So, instead of writing glowing reviews about China’s handling of this pandemic, the U.S. media should demand answers about these leaked documents. Our government must insist that China provide complete transparency and convince our allies to follow suit.
Of course, these things should have already been done. But now, we have credible, undeniable proof that China cannot ignore. It’s time to demand answers. Those who have suffered from the coronavirus pandemic deserve that much.
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