China deliberately misled the world in the early stages of Wuhan's Covid-19 outbreak, suppressed evidence, and mishandled the pandemic, stated a report published by CNN.
Called "The Wuhan Files", the report reveals evidence of mishandling and purported destroying of evidence, based on a 117-page document marked "internal document, please keep confidential".
Local health authorities in the province of Hubei, where cases of the virus were first detected, list a total of 5,918 new cases on February 10 according to the internal document. However, the confirmed cases announced officially on the same date were less than half of the actual number, suggesting the numbers were tampered with, in the very early stages.
The files also show that a large and unknown outbreak of influenza happened in Hubei in early December and went undisclosed. It further elaborates on the region's struggle to manage the coronavirus spread between October 2019 and April 2020 -- the crucial time period which swelled the virus into a global pandemic.
The report has been verified by six experts and is based on internal documents from the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The whistleblower worked in the Chinese healthcare system.
The findings also detail how China took an average of 23 days to diagnose confirmed patients. Delayed testing and testing failures meant the magnitude of confirmed cases wasn't realised until January 10, before which many received negative results. Moreover, a history of understaffing and bureaucratic model of governance led China to ignore early warnings, internal audits showed.
Cases of coronavirus were first reported in late December 2019 in Wuhan's Hubei province in China. The virus has since infected more than 63.2 million people and caused 1.45 million deaths globally, according to John Hopkins University coronavirus resource centre.
The report joins global speculation over China deliberately suppressing evidence related to the coronavirus outbreak. The origin of the virus, although largely unconfirmed, is thought to be Wuhan's controversial wet markets that house and sell animals. Patients who had been exposed to a common infection source in the market had fallen ill, but the pathogen wasn't ruled out as contagious until January 20.
Recently, Chinese scientists claimed that the virus likely originated from India in the summer of 2019. Authorities have also previously placed blame on the US and other European countries.
China has vociferously denied all accusations against any mishandling or obfuscation of evidence by the United States and other countries. Recently, it It maintains that it has been transparent since the beginning of the outbreak.