Chinese authorities understated the numbers of confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus and relied on a flawed testing system according to official documents obtained by CNN, contradicting public claims made by the communist government early in the outbreak of the flu-like respiratory disease.
The incomplete, but verified, 117 pages of documents from the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention – the governmental authority in the province where the disease is believed to have emerged – cover a period between October 2019 and April 2020.
They were provided to CNN by a person the cable news channel identified only as “whistleblower who requested anonymity…worked inside the Chinese healthcare system, and were a patriot motivated to expose a truth that had been censored, and honor colleagues who had also spoken out.”
CNN said it didn’t know how the documents were obtained or why the specific pages were selected.
Among the revelations were that while China publicly claimed 2,478 new daily cases of infections of the SARS-CoV-2 on Feb. 10, the actual number was more than twice that, 5,918.
Another document from early March shows that the average time between the onset of symptoms to confirmed diagnosis was 23.3 days, a lag experts have said would have significantly impacted the government’s ability to monitor and slow its spread.
The United States and other western governments have criticized China for willfully withholding information about the initial outbreak, an accusation it has denied.
"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," CNN quoted Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.
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