China botched up Coronavirus in the early stages, misinformed when it came to its own handling of the outbreak and then misled the world by withholding some crucial information. The Chinese government till date stands its ground, that it did not do any of the above. 

Recently surfaced leaked documents show China not just withheld the truth about Covid-19, but also lied to the world. The 117 pages leaked internal documents also show the authorities significantly downplayed the numbers of confirmed cases.

china Coronavirus
Residents wearing face masks and pyjamas are seen on a street in Shanghai, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, February 14, 2020.Reuters

 Called 'The Wuhan Files', but the report is marked as, "internal document please keep confidential." On February 10 in Beijing, Chinese authorities reported 2,478 new confirmed cases, but the official documents in question which were circulated internally show that was only a fraction of the true numbers. In the report, the local health authorities in the province of Hubei, list a total of 5,918 newly detected cases on the same day. This true figure was withheld by the government for obvious reasons.

 The documents, first shared by CNN by getting access to a whistleblower, hold a string of revelations from the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control. The documents also amount to the most significant leak from inside China since the beginning of the pandemic.

Medical workers work at "Wuhan Livingroom" in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 8, 2020. The cultural building complex dubbed "Wuhan Livingroom" is a converted hospital to receive patients infected with the novel coronavirus.

What local authorities & what the world was told

 What Chinese authorities knew and what they informed the world, are two completely different things, as per the documents. Thereby confirming what the US and most of the Western World has alleged since the beginning of the pandemic. China misled the world by withholding some crucial information, it manhandled the outbreak, downplayed the official numbers of confirmed cases. The documents cover the period between October 2019 and April of 2020. 

Slow detection, suppressed number of cases

China has maintained its ground and repeatedly said on several platforms that their handling of the initial phase of the outbreak has been most efficient and completely transparent. The documents clearly show otherwise. 

One of the reports in the documents shows that in early March, the average time between the onset of symptoms to confirmed diagnosis was over 23 days. Which clearly must have significantly hampered the monitoring and controlling the outbreak. 

What China knew in the initial stage was crucial

Timely information would have been the most crucial and helpful in combating the pandemic. What China knew early on, truly mattered and would have made a difference. The documents also show that a parallel health crisis was unfolding in China at the time. Hubei was also dealing with the influenza outbreak and it is as yet unclear its impact or association with Covid-19 outbreak.  It is not just the detected numbers of cases that have been bungled up in the official reports, it is also the number of deaths that have been narrowly over-reported on two occasions.

According to internal documents obtained by and expert estimates based on retrospective infection data, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned the public on the seventh day and by then more than 3000 cases had been detected.

Chinese President Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi JinpingIANS

 Six days after top Chinese officials secretly came to know that they were facing a potential pandemic like situation, the city of Wuhan hosted a mass banquet for tens of thousands of people. By the time, millions had started travelling for Lunar New Year celebrations. In the six crucial days, the damage had been done.

 China's rhetoric continues

"Allegations of a cover or lack of transparency in China are groundless," foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian during a press conference in April. 

The ever-changing Coronavirus narrative by China has been read against the stance by WHO. In January, the World Health Organisation publicly praised China for, "its speedy response to the new coronavirus." It also thanked the Chinese  Government for immediately sharing the genetic map of the virus and also said that the Chinese government's commitment to transparency was very impressive and beyond words."  

In July, China gives in to the demand from several other nations that it allows independent investigators onto its soil to study the origins of the virus. After resisting it for several months. Chinese officials hailed the visit by the team of experts as evidence that they have been transparent.