- Coronavirus is thought to have originated at market in Wuhan before spreading
- China initially tried to cover up the virus, and punished those reporting on it
- Experts and politicians warn country is lying over infection and death totals
New data intercepted by the United States reveals that 21 million people died in China from December 2019 to March 2020, US intelligence officials conclude in a classified report for the Trump administration.
According to the US, the intercepted data that shows that China underreported its coronavirus infections and deaths was validated for a second time when it tallied with a data released by Beijing authorities. Beijing announced on March 19 that over 21 million cell phone accounts in China were canceled in the past three months while 840,000 landlines were closed.
China had reported little over 81,000 infections with 3,300 deaths.
US President Donald Trump blamed the World Health Organization for getting “every aspect” of the coronavirus pandemic wrong and threatened to withhold funding from the international organization.
Dr Li Wenliang, one of the first Chinese medics to report the existence of the new coronavirus, was forced by police to confess to spreading false information. He was later reported to have died from the virus.
Wuhan’s mayor also admitted an error that allowed 5 million people to travel out of the city before the lockdown came into place without being checked for the virus, potentially helping it to spread.
Chinese authorities have also been reluctant to had over information on the country’s ‘patient zero’ – or the first person known to have contracted the virus.
While Beijing claims the first infection took place on December 8, researchers have traced the virus back to at least December 1 and anecdotal evidence suggests it was spreading in November.
Despite reporting the existence of a ‘novel type of pneumonia’ to the World Health Organisation on December 31, Wuhan’s largest newspaper also made no mention of the virus until the week of January 20.
That meant people in the city were not taking precautions such as social distancing to stop it spreading.
CORONAVIRUS cases in China have rocketed by 108 – the highest number in five weeks as experts fear a second wave of the killer virus.
The increases were reported on Sunday, up from 99 a day earlier with 98 of the cases said to have entered from abroad.