A nurse, an opthamologist and doctors are among whistleblowers, alleging that the Chinese government covered up the origins and extent of the coronavirus. The virus’ spread has led to Australian and American airline carriers to cancel air travel to mainland China.
The nurse was shown in an online video claiming that 90,000 people in China, where the disease began in the now locked-down city of Wuhan, are affected, not 1,975 as reported by officials.
“I am in the area where the coronavirus started. I’m here to tell the truth,” the anonymous nurse, wearing a full-head face mask said. She did not back up the assertion but The Daily Mail said the video by that time had been seen two million times.
“Without immediate quarantine or effective treatment, one infected person can pass the virus to 14 more nearby. The infection rate is extremely high,” she said.
Other videos show the dead covered by sheets on the floors of hospital hallways, sowing fear around the world and raising anti-Chinese sentiment. The country continue to expand its political and trade clout, causing worry among rivalling countries.
Some two dozen countries reported cases of the new coronavirus, which has killed more than 300 people and sickened scores of thousands in China. Many countries sent planes to Wuhan to evacuate their nationals.
Restaurants in South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Vietnam refused to accept Chinese customers. Indonesians marched near a hotel and called on Chinese guests to leave. French and Australian newspapers face criticism for racist headlines, the Associated Press said.
In The New York Times, columnist Nicholas Kristof , who said he’s traveled to more than 150 countries, said the world is paying the price for China’s clampdown on news, social media and trying to corral dissent.
According to Kristof, China went after whistleblowers trying to draw attention to a public health threat. A doctor who told a WeChat group about the virus was said to be disciplined by the Communist Party and forced to admit wrongdoing. Furthermore, the police was reported giving “education” and “criticism” to eight front-line doctors for “rumormongering” about the epidemic, according to the columnist.
But such is the worry over the spread of the virus that news being allowed out of China is seen as an indication of the government being forced to reveal more.
The Beijing media group Caixin wrote an opthamologist believed the first whistleblower was punished by police for “spreading rumors” but that the country’s top court vindicated him. Suspected to have been infected after treating a patient, Li Wenliang said he would continue to draw attention to what’s happening there.
The US and Australia said they would deny entry to all foreign visitors recently in China, joining Russia, Japan, Pakistan and Italy in imposing travel restrictions, which global health officials warned again, calling for screening instead.
The US, which declared a rare public health emergency, banned entry from all foreign nationals who had visited China in the past two weeks. A man in his 20’s in Boston, who visited Wuhan, was confirmed to have the dangerous virus.
Dr. Yukteshwar Kumar of the University of Bath told the Mirror the eight whistleblower doctors were silenced by the state. He claimed the spread could have been checked if people were made aware of the outbreak in December.
“They were asked to sign a confession stating that they will not spread false news. If they had taken steps earlier the situation could have been better because they did know about it,” the doctor said.
“If they’d listened to the advice of these eight people and some scientists the situation would have been perhaps better,” he also added.
Picture: Emergency hospital in Wuhan, © dpa-/pa/picture alliance