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Why did China suppress Dr Li Wenliang’s early warning of COVID-19?


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In a letter on May 19, 2020, addressed to James E. Clyburn, Chairman Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Steve Scalise, Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, Rep. Jackie Warloski, and Rep. Mark E. Green petitioned that the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis should investigate: (1) China’s obfuscation of the origin of COVID-19; (2) China’s manipulation of the WHO to cover the pandemic.


In the letter to investigate China’s obfuscation of the origin of COVID-19, Members of the US House of Representatives raised serious questions on China silencing Dr. Li Wenlang, Ophthalmologist, Wuhan Central Hospital.

“On Dec 30, 2019, Li Wenliang sent a message to a group of fellow doctors warning them about a possible outbreak of an illness that resembled severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, where he worked. Meant to be a private message, he encouraged them to protect themselves from infection. Days later, he was summoned to the Public Security Bureau in Wuhan and made to sign a statement in which he was accused of making false statements that disturbed the public order.

In hindsight, now, it proves that Dr. Li had correctly recognized the signs of a novel coronavirus. The Chinese government, however, suppressed the efforts of Dr. Li and seven others who tried to raise public awareness about the deadly outbreak in Wuhan. In fact, by the time Dr. Li issued a warning to his colleagues on December 30, 2019, it had been more than six weeks since COVID-19 was first identified in a 55-year-old from Hubei province, according to Chinese government data. 

Dr. Li returned to work after signing the statement and contracted severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), apparently from a patient. His death sparked outrage in China, where citizens took to message boards to voice their gratitude for Li’s dedicated front-line service and to criticize the initial response of Wuhan’s security and medical officials to his warning

Wuhan Health Hospital has been one of the health facilities at the epicenter of the outbreak of COVID-19. Dr. Li raised the alarm after he saw seven patients with SARS-like symptoms. Dr. Li reported the suspected outbreak to his colleagues in a closed group on the WeChat social media platform after learning that patients were being quarantined

Dr. Li was one of eight people detained in Wuhan for “spreading rumors”, according to Chinese media. In a video, he said he was asked to sign a statement agreeing to stop illegal activities or face legal punishment.”

The moot question is what were the compelling reasons for China to suppress Dr. Li’s warnings, if not to cover up the actual timelines of the cases in China than the timelines and cases it had reported to the international community through the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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