China has been praised by the WHO for being transparent and collaborative in taking on the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan. They’ve been sharing information about the disease, now known as Covid-19, with the international community since late December when Wuhan reported the first cluster of patients carrying an unknown pneumonia virus. Chinese scientists figured out the genetic sequence of the new virus on Jan. 12, less than two weeks into the research.
The everyday people of China, however, didn’t know any of this. Inside China, government officials downplayed the severity of the virus and tightly controlled information related to it including its ability to transmit from person to person, the number of people infected, and the circumstances around the death of Dr. Li Wenliang, a whistleblower.
Here’s how the coronavirus narrative pushed by Chinese authorities changed during the outbreak:
The delayed information disclosure by the government combined with the population migration during the lunar new year caused the virus to spread quickly all over China. By Feb. 13, 1,383 have died from the virus around the world, and all except three took place within mainland China. On the same day, Beijing replaced the top officials of Wuhan and Hubei province with new party officials to contain the outbreak.
With canceled conferences, suspended flights, and closed factories, the extent of the virus has now raised fears that it could ignite a global economic slow down.