China’s secrecy has led to fatal consequences in the COVID-19 pandemic. 6 million people died by official count, and the cover-up is immense and still in place.The story of how the pandemic got started — and turned into a global catastrophe — remains a black box. It should not be.The early cases could illuminate missteps in public health that allowed the virus to spread. They could point to failures in the early warning and surveillance systems, offering important lessons for the future.
It is particularly important to discover how far and wide the virus spread in December 2019. The outbreak probably eluded detection at first, then was detected but not recognized as a new disease by doctors and nurses. After that, it was both detected and recognized, but the vital reporting was suppressed by Chinese authorities, both local and national.
In the autumn of 2019, there were many signals that something unusual was happening in Wuhan, a city of more than 11 million people.
Medical records show influenza-like illness, a measure of patients with respiratory ailment, soared late in November and in December in Wuhan at a rate higher than previous winter surges.
Officially, the first case was someone who fell ill on either December 10 or 11, though it has been difficult to establish.
This raises important and still unanswered questions: Who were these early cases? How did they get sick? Why were they not reported to the WHO? asked The Washington Post.
The government did not disclose any new cases to the public. Chinese authorities covered up the truth rather than reveal it — the trademark of an authoritarian, secretive system that prizes political stability at any cost.
The WHO report said, “no firm conclusion” could be drawn yet about the seafood market, which sold live animals and frozen meat, among other products.
But as China discovered, the window for early warning might be short, and spotting an illness can be especially difficult if the pathogen has never been seen before. (ANI)