Legal Insurrection readers have been following the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus since January 10th, when I noted that a severe, new pneumonia was being reported from Wuhan, China.

Chinese public health officials are struggling to identify a mysterious strain of pneumonia that has infected dozens of people and put the rest of Asia on alert for outbreaks.

…Symptoms of the new disease include high fever, difficulty breathing, and lung lesions. Currently, there are 59 known cases of this pneumonia-like illness. And while Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) has been ruled out as a cause, public health officials are concerned about another potential pandemic.

We then followed up with the “Wuhan Virus Watch” series, in which the earliest versions included the number of recorded infections and deaths from China. These reports were based on news accounts and records provided by the Centers for Disease Control.

As the magnitude of this disaster has become increasingly clear, China has decided to distance itself from being identified with the virus. Its first attempt was to recast the virus as an American-made pathogen.

The rumors seemed to begin when Chinese respiratory specialist Zhong Nanshan stated at a February press conference that “though the COVID-19 was first discovered in China, it does not mean that it originated from China,” planting the seeds of doubt.

On Thursday (March 12), Zhao Lijian, the spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, took to Twitter, a social platform banned in China, to ask, “When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!”

When that laughable attempt went nowhere fast, Chinese officials more versed in Western sensibilities decided to play the race card. Sadly, this has been more successful among elite media and establishment types.

The British publication, “Nature,” wrote an editorial apologizing for linking China with the novel coronavirus.

In an article published on Tuesday, the publication said that the World Health Organisation’s announcement on February 11 that the official name for the pneumonia-like virus would be Covid-19 had been an implicit reminder to “those who had erroneously been associating the virus with Wuhan and with China in their news coverage – including Nature”.

“That we did so was an error on our part, for which we take responsibility and apologise,” it said.

“It’s clear that since the outbreak was first reported, people of Asian descent around the world have been subjected to racist attacks, with untold human costs – for example, on their health and livelihoods.”

However, many others refuse to participate in China’s attempt to rebrand the virus.

“Real Time” host Bill Maher slammed the “PC police” Friday night for overreacting to the “Chinese virus” labeling controversy.

…Maher mocked the complainers, listing several other illnesses that are named after their locations of origin — such as the West Nile virus, Spanish flu and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).

“You can’t yell at someone for breaking a rule you just made up,” he said, adding, “So why should China get a pass?”

Maher continued, making an essential point about where the blame for this pandemic should be placed.

“So when someone says, ‘What if people hear Chinese Virus and blame China?’ the answer is, ‘We should blame China.’ Not Chinese-Americans, but we can’t stop telling the truth because racists get the wrong idea. There’s always going to be idiots out there who want to indulge their prejudices, but this is an emergency! Don’t we have bigger tainted fish to fry?”

The latest manipulation of the facts is associating the New York City outbreak with Europe.

Researchers tracking the spread of the coronavirus have determined that the virus has been circulating in New York City for a couple of months, since before testing began. Genetic sequencing of virus samples indicates most of the early cases in New York originated in Europe — not Asia — the researchers from NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine found.

The research team studied samples of the virus taken from 91 New York City patients.

No, it did not “originate in Europe.” The virus started its journey to New York from China with a stopover in Europe. No amount of press will change this fact.

Finally, it is now being reported that U.S. intelligence was following the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China as early as November.

US spy agencies were tracking the rise of the novel coronavirus as early as November, weeks before that information was included in President Donald Trump’s daily intelligence briefing, a former US military official told CNN.

While the exact date of the first report remains unclear, sources told CNN that intelligence gathered in November and in the weeks following offered multiple early warnings about the potential severity of the pandemic now surging in the US.

Intelligence is often only elevated to the highest levels of the government once analysts and officials reach a certain threshold of confidence in their assessment. That day came on January 3, the first day the President’s daily briefing included information the US intelligence community had gathered about the contagion in China and the potential it had to spread, including to the US, according to a person briefed on the matter.

This virus by any other name will still be identified with China, and as the Chinese are clearly aware, it will also be associated with it China’s execrable handling of the initial outbreak.

 

 
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