Coronavirus may have broken out in the Chinese city of Wuhan much earlier than previously thought, according to a new US study looking at satellite imagery and internet searches. The Harvard Medical School research found that the number of cars parked at major Wuhan hospitals at points last autumn was much higher than the preceding year. It also found that searches from the Wuhan region for information on “cough” and “diarrhea”, known Covid-19 symptoms, on the Chinese search engine Baidu spiked around the same time. It has led researchers to suggest that the outbreak began much earlier than December 31, the date the Chinese government notified the World Health Organisation of the outbreak. The findings add weight to US calls for Beijing to cooperate with investigators attempting to understand the origins of a virus which has now claimed more than 400,000 lives worldwide.
China has enforced a lockdown on a city bordering North Korea, raising suspicions about a coronavirus outbreak in the isolated country. Residential compounds have been closed and transportation shut down in Shulan, a city of 700,000 in the north-eastern province of Jilin, state broadcaster China Central Television reported on Sunday. Students who already had returned to school, were sent back home again to study, and the city’s threat level has been raised from medium to high risk. As of Saturday, Jilin province had reported a total of 105 locally transmitted Covid-19 cases and 19 imported ones. There were 11 new coronavirus cases in Shulan on Saturday, local health authorities said. North Korea closed its borders in January when Covid-19 first began to take hold in China, and has consistently stated that nobody inside the country has been infected.
Ministers were made "fully aware" by intelligence agencies that China had covered up the true scale of the coronavirus outbreak, it was claimed on Sunday night, raising questions over Britain's decision to delay the lockdown. The UK Government was told "not to believe Beijing’s claims" from the outset and to treat information coming out of China with scepticism, The Telegraph understands. A senior former MI6 official said the intelligence agencies knew what was "really happening" in China and passed that information to ministers. Doubts are also being expressed over China's insistence that the outbreak began in a so-called "wet market" in Wuhan, where live animals were being sold. The spotlight is being turned on the nearby Wuhan Institute of Virology amid claims that lax biosecurity may have allowed the disease, being examined in the lab, to somehow escape. A Chinese television news report dating from two years ago shows scientists in the institute's "emerging viruses group" wearing only lab coats and latex gloves but no other form of protective personal equipment. The latest studies suggest the true number of people infected in China in the first wave, dating back to mid-February, was close to a quarter of a million – four times higher than the official figure. China has also since revised its death toll up by 50 per cent. Downing Street continued to use China's official figures in comparative graphs on the scale of the outbreak until just over a week ago, but then dropped the country from the charts over concerns about the accuracy of the data.
America’s worst flu season in recent years was in 2017-2018 when more than 61,000 people died, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/past-seasons.html. The United States has the world’s highest coronavirus death toll and a daily average of 2,000 people died in April of the highly contagious respiratory illness COVID-19, according to a Reuters tally. The first U.S. death was recorded on Feb. 29 but recent testing in California indicates the first death might have been on Feb. 6, with the virus circulating weeks earlier than previously thought.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Friday there has never been a cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak in China and the government does not allow any cover-ups. Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing that the revision of the case toll in Wuhan, where the epidemic first emerged in late 2019, was the result of a statistical verification to ensure accuracy and that revision is a common international practice. Wuhan’s health authority earlier on Thursday revised up its cumulative death toll by 50% to 3,869 to rectify what it called incorrect reporting, delays and omissions.
As large American cities try various strategies to keep people home to limit the coronavirus’s spread, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has balanced a blend of stern — and occasionally scolding — news conferences with lighthearted social media to drive home her point. Lightfoot’s hard-line approach began with an exasperated announcement in March that she was shutting down lakefront trails, adjacent parks and other crowded public spaces after Chicagoans flocked there on a 70-degree weekday. “Your conduct — yours — is posing a direct threat to our public health,” Lightfoot chastised people spotted flouting social distancing orders.
China sent a plane loaded with medical personnel and supplies Saturday to help Pakistan fight the spread of the coronavirus in one of the world’s most populous nations. In Iran, which is battling the worst outbreak in the region, state TV said Saturday another 139 people had died from the virus. China has sought to portray itself as a global leader in the fight against the outbreak, which began a few months ago in its Wuhan province.
Taiwan accused the World Heath Organization of ignoring its questions at the start of the coronavirus outbreak, part of what it has long described as a pattern that puts it at risk because of Chinese pressure to exclude it from international bodies. Taiwan is barred from membership in the WHO under pressure from China, which views it as a province rather than a state. It responded early to the coronavirus outbreak in China, and has had notable success in limiting contagion so far, with just two deaths and 215 cases.