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Reality Check of US Allegations Against China on COVID-19 (VIII)
2020/05/11

8. Allegation: China's initial cover-up and delayed release of information resulted in the spread of the virus.

Reality Check: What has happened is an unexpected attack by an unknown virus against human beings. It takes time to study and understand it. China has provided timely information to the world in an open, transparent and responsible manner.

◆ On 27 December 2019, Dr. Zhang Jixian, director of the respiratory and critical care medicine department of Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, reported three cases of pneumonia of unknown cause immediately after receiving the patients. This was the first reporting of suspected cases of a new disease by local authorities of China. On the same day, the Wuhan CDC conducted epidemiological investigation and testing on the patients concerned.

◆ On 30 December 2019, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission issued two emergency notices on the reporting and treatment of pneumonia of unknown cause.

◆ On 31 December 2019, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission released a situation report on pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan. On the same day, China informed the WHO China Country Office of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan.

◆ On 3 January 2020, China began sending regular, timely updates about the novel coronavirus to WHO, other countries including the United States, and China's Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan regions. Between 3 January and 3 February, China updated the US 30 times on the epidemic situation and its response measures.

◆ Following the first public reporting of the pneumonia by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission on 31 December 2019, China completed the identification and sequencing of the virus as early as on 7 January 2020, and shared the genome sequence information with WHO and other countries on 11 January. On 10 January, the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other professional institutions developed preliminary testing kits, and stepped up research on vaccines and effective medication. On 20 January, the National Health Commission designated the new coronavirus pneumonia as a statutory infectious disease. On 24 January, COVID-19 cases began to be directly reported online.

◆ In contrast to China's response measures, the US government had not declared a national emergency until 13 March, 70 days after it was notified by China of the new virus on 3 January 2020, 40 days after it closed its borders on 2 February to all Chinese citizens and foreign nationals who had traveled in China within 14 days.

◆ On 1 May, the US CDC posted on its website a report drafted by its Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat and COVID-19 Response Team.

According to the report, after "the first confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) case in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020", the "outbreak appeared contained through February, and then accelerated rapidly." It notes that "various factors contributed to accelerated spread during February -- March 2020, including continued travel-associated importations, large gatherings, introductions into high-risk workplaces and densely populated areas, and cryptic transmission resulting from limited testing and asymptomatic and presymptomatic spread."

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