China Knew of Virus Ability to Spread but Kept Silent for Days: Leaked Documents

Chinese health officials were drawing up plans to combat the CCP virus, which they knew to be infectious, long before they informed the public about its potential to spread, according to internal government documents obtained by The Epoch Times.

The CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, originated from the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. The virus has since spread to over 200 countries and territories, causing more than 60,900 deaths in the United States alone.

China officially confirmed that the virus could be transmitted among humans on Jan. 20, when top respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan made the announcement.

Now, internal documents provided to The Epoch Times show that Beijing covered up what it knew, as central authorities were secretly providing directives to regional governments on how to handle the virus outbreak.

On Jan. 15, the regional health commission in northern China’s Inner Mongolia issued a “super urgent” emergency notice to its municipal counterparts, explaining how medical facilities should respond to a new form of pneumonia.

The notice said that China’s National Health Commission had already drawn up treatment and prevention measures with regard to the new disease (now known as COVID-19), and that it was now passing on these measures to local health agencies.

Three measures stated in the notice clearly indicated that Chinese officials knew the disease was infectious. First, it asked hospitals to take measures to prevent the disease from spreading inside their facilities and train staff on such actions.

Second, it asked hospitals to set up fever clinics, and to “pre-screen and triage” any patients with fever. The latter is a medical term meaning to assign levels of urgency for treating patients.

Hospitals should also ask those patients if they had been to markets in Wuhan in the previous two weeks. Wuhan authorities initially claimed that the virus likely originated from a local fresh food market, though studies have since shown that some of Wuhan’s first patients had no link to the market.

Finally, the notice asked hospitals to set up special treatment teams. Infectious disease experts must be included among the team members, it said.

The Inner Mongolia health commission had no intention of informing the public about these plans; it stated that the notice was “for internal use only, and cannot be distributed on the internet.”

In another internal document issued on Jan. 15 by the local health commission in Xilingol League, one of 12 administrative leagues within Inner Mongolia, authorities also emphasized fever as a key symptom.

The league health commission stated that local health agencies must “strengthen their management of screening and triage patients with fever.” The commission added that it called for such management based on teleconferences held by central and Inner Mongolia authorities about the virus.

On Jan. 19, a top Wuhan health official took questions from reporters, saying that he could not “rule out” human-to-human transmission, “but its risk was rather low.”

On Jan. 23, three days after Zhong’s public statement, China’s National Health Commission publicly released the third edition of a document titled “Diagnosis and Treatment Plan for the New Coronavirus.”

The document stated that pneumonia cases reported in some hospitals in Wuhan since December 2019 were confirmed to be “an acute respiratory infectious disease caused by a new coronavirus.”

The above statement was also included in the second edition of the document, issued on Jan. 18—two days before Zhong’s announcement.

The second edition, leaked to The Epoch Times, was previously kept secret. The notice is marked with the words: “not to be disclosed.”

The second edition contains a section explaining that medical personnel in hospital departments dealing with patients with fever, respiratory problems, and infectious diseases should wear a surgical mask, goggles, and one-time-use protective clothing.

Despite such instructions, showing that central authorities knew the virus could spread among medical staff, they kept mum until Jan. 20.

The Inner Mongolia documents showed that local health commissions were already warned about virus prevention measures by Jan. 15. But that day, the Wuhan Health Commission wrote on its website that the “risk of human-to-human infection is low.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) also initially repeated China’s claims that the virus was not contagious.

“Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan,” the WHO tweeted on Jan. 14.

A recent report by the Associated Press, also citing a series of internal memos, similarly found that Beijing knew of the virus’s transmissibility for six days before publicly admitting it on Jan. 20.

It took another two days before the WHO mission to China issued a statement confirming that “human-to-human transmission is taking place in Wuhan.”

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Author: Frank Fang