The Wuhan Files: China’s Biggest Flaws In The Pandemic Unraveled

Diego Hernandez, Editor/Reporter

It’s February 10, 2020, and Chinese President Xi Jinping is in a video call with Wuhan’s frontline medical staff, addressing them on the nation’s plans for the outbreak. With the world beaming their eyes towards China, world leaders and the general public alike await to see China’s plan for a potentially global microscopic menace that threatens to harm thousands.


In the nation’s capital, Xi wishes his condolences to those who have lost their lives during the pandemic. He urges for greater communication amongst the general public, nearly 20 days after the city of Wuhan had been placed on total lockdown.


That very day the Chinese government reported roughly 2,478 new cases, tallying up the global tally to over 40,000.


Till this day, the Chinese government has stuck and released this news from that day, until CNN Philippines released an excerpt of documents that reveal that the Chinese government did not tell everything disclosed that day, and throughout the tenure of the virus’ havoc.


According to CNN, local health officials in the Hubei province had actually reported 5,918 new cases on Feb. 10, more than double of what the Chinese government claimed. This claim was separated into different subcategories, further pushing the notion that China’s counting system for these cases, in the early stages of the pandemic, had been downplaying the severity of the outbreak.


Leaked through the Hubei Provincial Center of Disease Control and Prevention, the 117 page document verified through CNN, discloses the perspectives of local officials and what they experienced in the early stages of the pandemic, and giving new light to claims that China has downplayed the severity of the virus, spreading misinformation to the general public.


Prior to the leaks, the Chinese government has, on multiple accounts, denied all accusations by the United States government and other Western governments that it has intentionally concealed information of the outbreak, sticking to their narrative that it has been truthful to the global community from the very start of the pandemic.


These documents, which go from early October 2019 to April of the current year, reveal a number of mishaps and inaccuracies contrasted with the narrative that the Chinese government bestowed to the public. These mishaps and fallacies reveal inaccurate placement of numbers, inaccurate placement of the virus’ origins and a flawed system to prepare and dismantle the inevitable outbreak.


A report in the documents disclosed that in early March, the average time between the first signs of symptoms and confirmed diagnosis was 23.2 days. This pushes the notion that this delayed timespan may have tampered with China’s efforts to control the virus and diminish it’s spread.


China had disputed this claim prior to it’s release on June 7, when their State Council released a White Paper saying that the Chinese government has released information of the virus in “timely, open and transparent fashion.”


Via CNN, the White Paper claims that “while making an all-out effort to contain the virus, China has also acted with a keen sense of responsibility to humanity, its people, posterity, and the international community. It has provided information on Covid-19 in a thoroughly professional and efficient way. It has released authoritative and detailed information as early as possible on a regular basis, thus effectively responding to public concern and building public consensus.”


5 days ago marked the first record of a patient being infected with the virus in Wuhan, according to a study in the Lancet medical journal. Roughly around the same time, the files show that Hubei was experiencing a large influenza outbreak. These records went over 20x the amount of the year before. This spike primarily affected the surrounding cities of Wuhan such as Yichang and Xianning.


While there is no direct connection of both outbreaks being related to each other in the files, this information was not made public to the Chinese people until the files were leaked.


This spike saw cases rise 2,059% in contrast to a year before the week of Dec. 2, 2019. The neighboring cities of Wuhan saw the worst of the spike, with Wuhan coming in third (2,032 cases) to Xianning (2,148) and Yichang (6,135). The documents follow up by saying that testing influenza patients returned a high number of unknown results.


According to the files, Wuhan CDC conducted insight into influenza cases dating as early as October 2019 to look for early signs of COVID-19. However, according to the journal Nature, health officials found no trace of the virus in the conducted research.


China’s government has previously claimed that the virus most likely originated from the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, due to it’s vast compilation of wet markets. Yet despite that claim back in December, a Lancet study has disputed that claim by saying that the early 41 December patients only had about 1/3rd of the had not originated from the market.


China combatted the virus through strict lockdowns through national borders and extreme surveillance, blocking roughly 700 million people from leaving their homes. In the journal Science, it was concluded that these actions, announced in May, that these actions placed in the first 50 days of the pandemic likely halted further spread of the pandemic. February showed the deepest moments of instability and public trust within the Chinese government, as many criticized and turned their heads against the control of the spread, with nationwide cases soaring by the day.


With an economy already heavily damaged through the China-US trade war, further instability caused by the virus showed an even greater threat to the nation.


The virus began to pick up during the Lunar New Year, China’s most important national holiday. Citizens and travellers alike took to loved ones’ homes to rejoice in the celebration, furthering the spread of the virus. People did not view the potential outbreak as a genuine threat, and rather viewed it as an “abstract distraction.”


Throughout this period, the published numbers by Hubei and the documents did not match. On Feb. 17, Hubei published 93 deaths, while the leaked files said 196 deaths were reported that day through local authorities, contrary to what Hubei’s government published to the public.


Around this same time, local officials were accused by worldwide media and the local general public for downplaying the pandemic and it’s overall hostility to the public.


In late Dec. 2019, Li Wenliang, a doctor in Central Hospital of Wuhan, raised early awareness of a SARS-like virus. He received formal reprimand by local officials for attempting to raise alarm of the virus in it’s early stages. He and other medical staff at the hospital were chastised and slated by state media, reporting the punishment and warning the public of rumor mongering.


Li, at the age of 34, eventually became infected by the virus through a patient who was unknown to have it at the time. His condition worsened quickly, and passed away in the morning of Feb. 7. The news of his passing quickly spread, causing massive outrage throughout the nation and on their censored internet.


The files offered no evidence if Beijing had any direct correlation with local authorities in attempting to oversee or minimize how much information was spread throughout the tenure of his death.


China had increasingly gripped it’s health officials, overworking them and putting them under immense strain. Yang, from the Council of Foreign Relations, put it best by saying that, “they had a massive run on the medical system. They were overwhelmed. There was truly despair among medical professionals by the end of January, because they were extremely overworked and they were also enormously discouraged by the high number of deaths that were occurring with a disease they had not treated previously.”


The documents leaked out that health officials had no initial idea or preparations for the magnitude of the virus and the outbreak that followed. It is also not stated in the 100+ page document that officials believed the virus would mold into a global pandemic.


China today reports near to zero cases daily, a result of Xi’s constant public display and crackdown on public and health officials, constant lockdowns and checkpoints throughout every affected area.


It’s been over a year since the first patient was reported with COVID-19 symptoms. What follows is the worldwide attention and action to combat the pandemic, a motion that affects the lives and actions of billions worldwide, through all aspects of life.