Documents leaked from the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control in China indicate that the country had mishandled the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Internal documents worth 117 pages, provided by a whistleblower in the Chinese healthcare system, show that China had misled public data and caused three-week's delay in test results.
As per the files provided to CNN, which the American news network verified through six experts, China had been struggling to manage the virus between October 2019 and April 2020; marking the window wherein the virus spread from China to other parts of the world.
Over the past few months, allegations have been rife against China to have purposefully concealed information pertaining to the virus, with America leading with the attack. As per the report, the documents do not point to an intentional retention of information, but rather to discrepancies in what was reported to the public, and what the officials actually believed.
Data manipulation as far as the number of cases are concerned has been noted as well. Chinese officials had declared 2,478 new confirmed cases for February 10, 2020 taking the total global tally to 40,000. However, a file labeled 'internal document, please keep confidential,' shows that the Hubei CDC recorded 5,918 new cases on the said date, with 2,345 'confirmed cases,' 1,772 'clinically diagnosed cases' and 1,796 'suspected cases.'
A report from early March also indicates that the average time expended between the onset of symptoms and a confirmed diagnosis was about 23.3 days; impeding the officials' ability to address the rapid transmission of the virus, according to experts.
According to the documents, Hubei had also been dealing with an influenza epidemic towards the end of 2019, which showed a twenty-fold increase in the number of cases as compared to 2018. While revealing this information, CNN did not make any correlation between the two virus outbreaks, but only suggested that the severity of the influenza virus had not been reported, akin to the data manipulation of the coronavirus cases. Experts also told the network that the double whammy of coronavirus and influenza would have made it even more challenging for health experts to curb the spread.
Meanwhile, China's stand regarding this has always been to defend its response to the virus. China's State Council in June had said that the government was always quick and honest to publish any COVID-19-related information in a "timely, open and transparent fashion."