Yesterday, December 1, marks a year since the first patient showed symptoms of what we now know as COVID-19. According to a study in the Lancet medical journal, the first patient was located in the Hubei province in China on December 1, 2019.
However, recent documents showed that it wasn’t just the new virus that the country with a population of over one billion was facing—an influenza outbreak, much worse than that of the previous year, was on its way. (Read: Fake news endangers lives more than COVID-19, and each of us can fix it)
And in a country with an already strained healthcare system, two viruses ravaging the cities and provinces do not look and sound too good. But the diseases themselves are not the only problems of China—their non-disclosure of information regarding the novel coronavirus leading to what is now a global pandemic is a much bigger issue.
According to 117 pages of leaked documents from the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention obtained by CNN through an anonymous source, the number of cases revealed to the public in early February was just half of the entire picture. The confidential documents showed that the health authorities from Hubei reported almost 6,000 new cases of infection— double the number they announced to the public.
The discrepancy in numbers presented to the public can be seen in a CNN report on February 10, which says “Hubei authorities confirmed an additional 2,097 cases of the virus in Hubei on Monday,” far from the actual 5,000+ new cases. (LOOK: Doctors Warn About Side Effects of COVID-19 Vaccine)
Even the number of deaths reported versus the actual number listed in the documents had huge discrepancies. One of these discrepancies was on March 7, where the total death toll in Hubei was already at 3,456, but was reported to have only been at 2,986. And this is only the beginning of a string of issues that have been thrown at China ever since the beginning of the pandemic.
Discrepancies in Testing and Reporting
Apart from the failure to reveal the true status of China and its disease infection rate, it was also uncovered that the turn around time of results for diagnosis took a little over 23 days. At this rate, according to experts, it would have “significantly hampered steps to both monitor and combat the disease.” This new information from the 117-page report contradicts how China announced that their testing and reporting was efficient. (Read: Cardinal Tagle Opens up About COVID-19 Experience)
In a statement, Chinese authorities said they were conducting “the most comprehensive, stringent, and thorough epidemic prevention and control campaign.” They also stated that authorities have “released authoritative and detailed information as early as possible on a regular basis, thus effectively responding to public concern and building public consensus.”
According to health experts, what China knew about the virus in its early stages would have been vital in helping curb the spread of the disease to the entire globe. “It was clear they did make mistakes— and not just mistakes that happen when you’re dealing with a novel virus— also bureaucratic and politically-motivated errors in how they handled it,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. He went on to say that what China did affect the world, citing that it had “global consequences.”
And what made matters even worse was that the influenza outbreak that was happening at the same time in the same province was much, much worse than the previous year. In fact, cases spike over 2,000% compared to the same week in 2018. But Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 virus, was actually only the third most affected city in the province of Hubei. (Read: A Prayer for Good Health and Protection)
Experts said that the outbreak may not be directly linked with the COVID-19 pandemic itself, but with people going to hospitals for flu check-ups, the spread of the then-unknown virus was accelerated.
Currently, worldwide COVID-19 cases are now at 63.4 million, recoveries at 40.7 million, and deaths at 1.47 million.