Chinese leaders waited six days after determining that a new coronavirus had erupted in Wuhan before warning citizens of the infection potential, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday, citing internal documents.
There have been many reports that Chinese leaders tried to cover up the epidemic at first, and the documents appear to support these claims.
Chinese National Health Commission chief Ma Xiaowei told health care officials in Hubei Province, whose capital is Wuhan, during a teleconference on January 14, that they are facing a challenge major.
“The epidemic is still serious and complex, the most serious challenge since SARS in 2003, and is likely to turn into a major public health event,” said a note on the call citing Ma.
Six days before the Chinese authorities publicly declared that the coronavirus could spread between people, the memo said that “the grouped cases suggest that human-to-human transmission is possible”.
“With the arrival of the Spring Festival, many people will travel and the risk of transmission and spread is high,” he added.
The National Health Commission replied to the AP in a statement saying that China had published information on the epidemic “in an open, transparent, responsible and timely manner”, in accordance with “important instructions” issued to several taken over by President Xi Jinping.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that “the accusations of so-called non-transparency in China are simply not fair, they are simply unworthy of the immense sacrifices made by the Chinese people. “
Meanwhile, the former head of the British secret service, MI6, said on Wednesday that China should be held accountable for its delay and deception over the virus.
“There is deep anger in America over what they consider to have been all of us inflicted by China and China is shirking a lot of responsibility for the origin of the virus, so as not to to have responded initially, “said John Sawers, who headed the British foreign intelligence service for five years until 2014.