Covid pandemic may have been avoided if China told world earlier, top doc claims

The coronavirus pandemic could have been avoided if China had told the world of human-to-human transmission earlier, a top doctor claimed in a new documentary.

The claims are made in ITV’s new coronavirus documentation Outbreak: the virus that rocked the worldwhich aired on Tuesday night.

It is claimed that China was aware of the virus long before it revealed its existence to the world.

Filmmakers trace the origins of the Covid-19 virus and lead viewers back to the beginnings of the pandemic, which has now killed more than two million people worldwide.

It contains undercover footage of Wuhan and leading medical figures alleging that the Chinese authorities tried to cover up the discovery that the disease had “leaped” from animals, was spreading rapidly – and was fatal.

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Leading Taiwanese virologists harshly criticized China’s handling of the first outbreak in the documentation, claiming it was not cooperative with their efforts to learn more about the mysterious new outbreak.

Taiwan is self-governing, but China claims the territory as its own.

The islands’ handling of the pandemic has been cited as a world leader with cases and deaths remaining low despite its proximity to the Mainlaind.

The specialist in infectious diseases, Dr. Yi-Chun Lo, deputy director general of the Centers for Disease Control in Taiwan, described China’s handling of the early outbreak as “chaos” and “failure”.

He told the documentaries that China should have been more transparent about the outbreak and was quick to share what it knew with the rest of the world.

Dr. Yin-Ching Chuang, of the Taiwanese Infectious Disease Prevention and Treatment Network, said he and his team made efforts to get to Wuhan early on in the outbreak.

He told the documentaries it took his team weeks to get permission to enter the city.

The specialist in infectious diseases, Dr. Yi-Chun Lo, assistant director general of the Centers for Disease Control in Taiwan, speaks to ITV on camera

Once there, they struggled to get answers on whether the new virus was spreading among people, he claimed.

The doctor said it took Chinese officials weeks to admit the possibility that the virus has already been transmitted between people.

Dr. Chuang said: “How big was the infection? How big was this epidemic? How many patients were affected? We didn’t know. Only they knew.

“Why didn’t China inform other countries about this person-to-person matter earlier?”

Poster in Wuhan with a cartoon saluting and wearing a face mask commemorating the city's success against Covid-19

The documentary also contained undercover footage shot by citizen journalists.

They secretly filmed Chinese medics and admitted they knew of deaths as early as December 2019, claiming the government told them to keep silent.

Beijing has been repeatedly charged with a cover-up which it denies.

China has said the outbreak started in Wuhan in late December 2019.

ITV documentary undercover footage of scientists wearing no gloves while studying feral bats

But one of the medics is secretly filmed and says, “In late December or early January, someone I know’s relative died of this virus.

“Many of those who live with him have also been infected, including people I know.”

Another said, “We all felt that there should be no doubt about human-to-human transmission.”

After Wuhan was released from lockdown, medics also claimed the central government had been warned that the January Chinese New Year celebrations would fuel the outbreak’s spread.

However, the city officials’ motion to repeal was ignored in order to create a “harmonious and prosperous” society.

A healthcare professional added, “We knew this virus was transmitted from person to person. However, when we attended a hospital meeting, we were told not to speak up.

A view of a Wuhan hospital in the early stages of the pandemic, filmed for an ITV documentary

“The provincial leaders told the hospitals not to tell the truth.”

The documentary also features footage of wet markets with live animals in cages, as the filmmakers reminded viewers that they are still operating despite international pressures calling for bans.

Heartbreaking footage shows a man filming in a hearse piled with body bags when Chinese authorities reassured the public that there was nothing to fear.

It aired when outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration gave final farewell shots this week on Beijing’s handling of the pandemic as he prepared to step down.

Blurred image of a medical professional talking about the virus filmed by a citizen journalist secretly filming him

The U.S. State Department claimed to have evidence that scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were experiencing symptoms like Covid-19 months before the world knew about the troublesome new disease.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to prepare to release US intelligence on the Wuhan laboratory before Trump resigns.

His department cited American intelligence reports but did not provide direct evidence to support the allegations.

The US has stopped supporting a widespread conspiracy theory that the virus “leaked” from the Wuhan lab.

People see a picture of China's President Xi Jinping in a face mask that was displayed at an exhibition in a former makeshift hospital about China's Covid-19 efforts

Another leading theory is that the virus spread from a humid market in Wuhan where live animals were traded for consumption and traditional medicines.

British officials have refused to speculate.

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently said the world must deal with the trade in exotic animals for consumption or risk another pandemic.

Foreign Minister Dominic Raab insisted last week that China should cooperate with outside investigations into the causes of the pandemic.

The World Health Organization only landed independent investigators in China last week after months of delays.

A WHO spokesperson told the media last week the researchers were open, saying it was possible that Covid-19 cases existed before it hit the wet market and the market was just a “spreading event”.

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