China's coronavirus outbreak reaches a TWENTIETH province

China’s most widespread coronavirus outbreak since Wuhan reaches a TWENTIETH province despite extreme ‘zero-Covid’ policies

  • China’s coronavirus outbreak has now spread to 20 of the country’s 31 provinces
  • The number of locally-transmitted cases have spiked to a near three-month high 
  • China’s government has said there is a ‘serious’ new outbreak of the Delta variant

China’s most widespread coronavirus outbreak since Wuhan has reached a twentieth province despite the country’s extreme ‘zero-Covid’ policies.    

The country’s new locally transmitted Covid cases have spiked to a near three-month high amid what the Chinese government called a ‘serious’ new outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant.

The National Health Commission reported 89 confirmed infections on Sunday and said the present outbreak had spread to 44 cities across 20 of China’s 31 provinces.   

Cases were concentrated in the country’s northern regions of Gansu, Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia.  

The National Health Commission confirmed on Monday 65 new local symptomatic cases for Sunday, up from 50 a day earlier and the highest daily count since August 9 at the peak of China’s last major outbreak. 

China’s most widespread coronavirus outbreak since Wuhan has reached a twentieth province despite the country’s extreme ‘zero-Covid’ policies

The National Health Commission reported 89 confirmed infections on Sunday and said the present outbreak had spread to 44 cities across 20 of China’s 31 provinces

China’s National Health Commission confirmed on Monday 65 new local symptomatic cases for Sunday, up from 50 a day earlier and the highest daily count since August 9 at the peak of the country’s last major Covid-19 outbreak

Most of the local cases were found in 20 in Dalian, in the northeastern province of Liaoning, where nine infections were recorded on Wednesday. 

And reports from the Sichuan provincial capital said dozens of people had scaled fences and trekked through bushes to avoid being tested for Covid-19.

It came after the capital was sealed off by authorities for mandatory testing after a person who had visited the city became infected. Police said they had not yet verified the reports or arrested anyone and were investigating.  

The spread and rise in Covid infections comes despite the Chinese government enforcing tighter curbs to contain the cases.

Henan province’s Communist Party secretary Lou Yangsheng said on Monday the region would ‘contain and kill’ its outbreak in one week. 

The vow came after Henan recorded the largest single-day rise in local infections of the present outbreak with three on Saturday and 18 on Sunday.  

Local residents queue up for Covid-19 nucleic acid testing at a temporary Covid-19 testing site on November 3, 2021 in Chongqing, China

Workers arrange food supplies at the Tiantongyuan residential complex where residents are under lockdown to halt the spread of the Covid-19 on Wednesday in Beijing

Lou said officials would improve contact tracing systems and increase monitoring of close contacts and potential cases. He added lockdowns would be implemented and expanded as necessary.  

National authorities also said on Saturday the country would continue to pursue a zero-Covid strategy. 

One expert last week insisted the current outbreak will be contained ‘within a month’.

Zhong Nanshan, a leading expert in China’s respiratory disease research, told China Global Television Network that China will continue with its zero-transmission policy against Covid, because the global Covid fatality rate of 2 per cent is too high.

‘I think the zero-transmission policy will remain in place for a long time,’ Nanshan said.  

‘Exactly how long depends on the global and regional Covid-19 control situations in coming months.’ 

Last week, China’s government urged citizens to stock up on daily necessities and for authorities to take steps to ensure adequate food supplies as the country adopts increasingly tight measures to contain the latest outbreak.

A notice posted on the website of the Ministry of Commerce early last week urged ‘families to store a certain amount of daily necessities as needed to meet daily life and emergencies’.

The directive made no mention of a food shortage or of whether the instructions were motivated by fears that Covid measures could disrupt supply chains or leave locked-down citizens in need of food.

But China, which has kept its infection numbers relatively low through a Covid-zero strategy of border closures, targeted lockdowns and long quarantine periods, is increasingly adopting tough measures to contain the latest outbreak, especially ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics beginning on February 4.

The Commerce Ministry notice also told authorities to take measures to facilitate agricultural production, keep supply chains smooth, ensure that regional food reserves were adequate and maintain stable prices. 

The government has restricted some inter-provincial travel, ramped up testing, and urged people to postpone social gatherings like weddings and banquets.

In an example of the extreme measures taken, the Shanghai Disneyland theme park closed temporarily from October 31 and prevented visitors and park personnel from leaving until they underwent Covid testing, all due to a single coronavirus case.

More than 38,000 people were tested as a result.

The great cover-up of China: Beijing punished Covid whistleblower, claimed it came from US and ‘lied about death figures’ 

China has lied and covered up key information during virtually every stage of its coronavirus response – from the initial outbreak to the number of cases and deaths, and is still not telling the truth, observers, experts and politicians have warned.

Beijing initially tried to cover up the virus by punishing medics who discovered it, denying it could spread person-to-person and delaying a lockdown of affected regions – meaning early opportunities to control the spread were lost.

Then, once the virus began spreading, the Communist Party began censoring public information about it and spread disinformation overseas – including suggesting that US troops could have been the initial carriers.

Even now, prominent politicians have warned that infection and death totals being reported by the regime are likely to be wrong – with locals in the epicenter of Wuhan suggesting the true tolls could be ten times higher.

Initial outbreak

Doctors in China, including Li Wenliang, began reporting the existence of a new type of respiratory infection that was similar to SARS in early December 2019.

But rather than publicise the reports and warn the public, Chinese police hauled Wenliang and eight of his colleagues who had been posting about the virus online in for questioning.

Wenliang, who would later die from the virus, was forced to sign a document admitting the information he published was false.

While China has been widely-praised for a draconian lockdown that helped slow the spread of the virus, evidence suggests that the country could have acted much quicker to prevent the spread.

Dr Li Wenliang, one of the first Chinese medics to report the existence of the new coronavirus, was forced by police to confess to spreading false data. He later died from the virus

Samples analysed as early as December 26 suggested a new type of SARS was circulating, the Washington Post reported, but Wuhan was not locked down until January 22 – almost a month later.

Wuhan’s mayor also admitted an error that allowed 5million people to travel out of the city before the lockdown came into place without being checked for the virus, potentially helping it to spread. 

Chinese authorities have also been reluctant to had over information on the country’s ‘patient zero’ – or the first person known to have contracted the virus.

While Beijing claims the first infection took place on December 8, researchers have traced the virus back to at least December 1 and anecdotal evidence suggests it was spreading in November.

A lack of information about the first patient has meant scientists are still unclear how the disease made the leap from animals into humans.

Theories include that it could have been carried by a bat or pangolin that was sold at a market in Wuhan and then eaten by someone, but this has not been confirmed. 

Early reports

Chinese authorities initially reported that the virus could not spread person-to-person, despite evidence that it was spreading rapidly through the city of Wuhan including doctors being infected by patients.

This was used as justification for keeping the city of Wuhan operating as normal through a major CCP conference that was held between January 11 and 17, with authorities claiming zero new cases in this period.

China did not confirm human-to-human transmission of the virus until late January, when large parts of Hubei province including Wuhan were put into lockdown. 

Despite reporting the existence of a ‘novel type of pneumonia’ to the World Health Organisation on December 31, Wuhan’s largest newspaper also made no mention of the virus until the week of January 20.

That meant people in the city were not taking precautions such as social distancing to stop it spreading.

It also meant that people had begun travelling for the Lunar New Year holiday, which was due to start on January 24 and sees millions of people visit relatives, spreading the virus further. 

Furthermore, China delayed reports suggesting that some 14 per cent of patients who initially tested negative for the virus or who appeared to have recovered tested positive a second time, only confirming such cases in February.

That further hampered efforts at early containment of the virus in places such as Japan, where patients who tested negative on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship were allowed to leave – only to test positive later. 

Authorities in Beijing were also slow to report the deaths of two doctors from the virus, including one who was killed on January 25 but whose death was not reported by state media until a month later. 

The market was shut on January 1 after dozens of workers there had contracted the disease

Origin of the virus

Despite early admissions that the virus began in the city of Wuhan, China later back-tracked – even going so far as to suggest American troops had brought the infection over after visiting the province.

Lijian Zhao, a prominent official within the Chinese Foreign Ministry, tweeted out the claim on March 12 while providing no evidence to substantiate it.

‘When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals,’ he wrote.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused American military members of bringing the coronavirus to Wuhan

Referencing a military athletics tournament in Wuhan in October, which US troops attended, he wrote: ‘It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. 

‘Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!’

In fact, America’s ‘patient zero’ was a man who travelled from China to Washington State on January 15. The case was confirmed by the CDC six days later.

Chinese has also tried to push the theory that the virus originated in Italy, the country with the most deaths, by distorting a quote from an Italian doctor who suggested the country’s first cases could have occurred much earlier than thought.

Zhao spread the theory in a tweet, while providing no evidence to back it up

Giuseppe Remuzzi said he is investigating strange cases of pneumonia as far back as December and November, months before the virus was known to have spread.

Chinese state media widely reported his comments while also suggesting that the virus could have originated in Italy.

In fact, Remuzzi says, there can be no doubt it started in Wuhan – but may have spread out of the province and across the world earlier than thought. 

Infection total

China has reported a total of some 95,000 infections from coronavirus, and at points has claimed a domestic infection rate of zero for several days in a row – even as it eased lockdown restrictions in placed like Hubei.

But, by the country’s own admission, the virus is likely still spreading – via people who have few or no symptoms.

Beijing-based outlet Caixin reported that ‘a couple to over 10 cases of covert infections of the virus are being detected’ in China every day, despite not showing up in official data.

Meanwhile foreign governments have heaped scorn on China’s infection reporting cannot be trusted.

Marco Rubio, a prominent Republican senator and former presidential candidate from the US, tweeted that ‘we have NO IDEA how many cases China really has’ after the US infection total passed Beijing’s official figure.

‘Without any doubt it’s significantly more than what they admit to,’ he added.

Meanwhile the UK government has also cast doubt on China’s reporting, with Conservative minister and former Prime Ministerial candidate Michael Gove claiming the Communist Party could not be trusted.

‘Some of the reporting from China was not clear about the scale, the nature, the infectiousness of this [virus],’ he told the BBC.

Meanwhile sources told the Mail that China’s true infection total could be anything up to 40 times as high as reports had suggested. 

Marco Rubio, a prominent Republican senator, has said that China’s figures cannot be trusted and a far higher than has been reported 

Death total 

Doubt has also been cast on China’s reported death toll from the virus.

Locals in epicenter city Wuhan have been keeping an eye on funeral homes since lockdown restrictions were partly lifted, claiming they have been ‘working around the clock’ to dispose of bodies.

China has reported a few thousand deaths from the virus, but social media users in Wuhan have suggested the toll could be in excess of 42,000

Social media posts estimate that 3,500 urns are being handed out by crematoriums each day, while Caixin reports that one funeral home in the city placed an order for 5,000 urns.

Locals believe that efforts to dispose of the bodies began March 23 and city authorities have said the process will end on or around April 5.

That would mean roughly 42,000 urns handed out in that time frame, ten times the reported figure. 

Chinese aid packages 

As it brought its own coronavirus epidemic under control and as the disease spread across the rest of the world, China attempted to paint itself as a helpful neighbour by sending aid and supplies to countries most in need – such as Italy.

In fact, while the Chinese Red Cross supplied some free equipment to the Italians, the country purchased a large amount of what it received.

Meanwhile officials in Spain said that a batch of coronavirus testing kits bought from China had just 30 per cent reliability – unlike the 80 per cent they were promised.

China has said it is willing to help supply the world with much needed aid and supplies, but has been accused of hoarding protective equipment and selling test kits that don’t work

China is also the world’s largest manufacturer of disposable masks of the kind being worn to slow the spread of the virus by people while out in public.

But as the disease began gathering speed in the country in January, China began limiting exports of the masks while also buying up supplies from other countries, the New York Times reported.

As well as halting virtually all exports of masks, China also bought up some 56million masks and respirators from overseas while fears of a pandemic were still far off.

Despite reports from US mask manufacturers of factories in Shanghai being effectively nationalised, China denies it has any such policy in place and has said it is ‘willing to strengthen international cooperation’ on the issue. 

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