Author: VOG-Translation-Team, WenYong
On February 13, 2020, the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court has published a legal notice with regards to the possible criminal consequences of covering up the coronavirus cases that “in accordance with current law, whoever intentionally disseminates infectious disease pathogens thereby endangering public security, inflicting severe injury or death after infection of others, or leading to quarantine of massive close contacts, especially for medical staff, or heavy losses to public or private property, shall be sentenced to over ten years’ imprisonment, life imprisonment or death.”
The notice outlined several examples to depict the criminal behaviors including hiding symptoms of unknown cough, fever or fatigue and untrue reporting of Wuhan travel and residence history or contact history with a confirmed and suspected case. It also reinforces the “obligations” for people returning to Beijing to cooperate with the investigation of the local community, residence quarantine and adherence to precautionary measures such as wearing masks in public areas.
However, it seems that the cover-up of coronavirus started to manifest in early January and was not conducted by the general public. The recently leaked information indicated that back to January 2, 2020, Yan-Yi Wang, Director General of Wuhan Institute of Virology, sent out an important reminder of “strictly prohibiting disclosure of Wuhan unknown pneumonia”. As shown in the leaked picture, Yan-Yi Wang had received phone calls directly from China’s National Health Commission (NHC) with clear commands that “any test data, result or conclusion that is relevant to the epidemic shall not be published to self-media, social software, public media including official websites or cooperation institutes including technical service firms.”
Coincidentally, another document leaked out and illustrated that on January 5, Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center has reported to NHC with the Etiological Investigation Report on Unknown Pneumonia Epidemic from Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, Hubei Province, stating “the unknown virus shares an 89.11% genome of SARS” and that public respiratory precaution and anti-virus treatment measures shall be in place promptly. Yet no information leaks around the response from NHC has shown up.
Are both leaked documents real? The earliest time NHC released coronavirus status to the public was on January 19, why is it so much delayed? What happened during this period? It gives me more questions than answers. But an undeniable fact would be that the outbreak could have been better controlled had it been communicated to the general public in a timely fashion.
The legal notice also raises concerns about its enforcement in consideration of doubts over NHC’s data transparency and accuracy. The untrustworthy data from NHC cannot guarantee you a risk-free travel and contact history in reference to the confirmed and suspected cases that are supposed to be authoritative.
Hence, if people report in error based on NHC’s coronavirus live updates, shall NHC be held accountable for the “crime”? And NHC’s actual controller CCP, the Chinese Communist Party, should be responsible, too.