China waited six days to warn public about coronavirus outbreak, report

The Chinese government rebuffs the notion that it failed to disclose information

Published: April 15, 2020 3:16pm

Updated: April 15, 2020 4:17pm

The Chinese government reportedly did not warn the public about the coronavirus threat until 6 days after it assessed that the situation could prove to be a pandemic.

The Chinese city of Wuhan "hosted a mass banquet for tens of thousands of people" before Chinese President Xi Jinping alerted the public on January 20, according to the Associated Press.

“This is tremendous,” University of California epidemiologist Zuo-Feng Zhang said. “If they took action six days earlier, there would have been much fewer patients and medical facilities would have been sufficient. We might have avoided the collapse of Wuhan’s medical system.”

The Chinese government rebuffs the notion that they failed to disclose information about the virus, which started in Wuhan.

“Those accusing China of lacking transparency and openness are unfair,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, according to AP.

According to a memo, Ma Xiaowi, leader of China's National Health Commission, noted during a Jan. 14 teleconference call that, "the epidemic situation is still severe and complex, the most severe challenge since SARS in 2003, and is likely to develop into a major public health event."

The memo indicates that there was an awareness about the potential spread of the illness as people travelled.

“With the coming of the Spring Festival, many people will be traveling, and the risk of transmission and spread is high,” the memo noted. “All localities must prepare for and respond to a pandemic.”

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