One year ago, as Americans were enjoying a year of unparalleled prosperity and a favorable trade-deal with China was close at hand, reports first surfaced that the Chinese were dealing with an outbreak of a serious, new type of pneumonia.

The bustle, bright lights and din of the street appear to show a city back to some normality one year on from 31 December 2019, the day that health authorities in the city reported an unknown pneumonia outbreak to World Health Organization (WHO) colleagues in Beijing.

But under the surface a struggle continues between residents of the city that was the first to feel the pain of the coronavirus pandemic and authorities over how to remember the initial response to the crisis.

“In the coming days I think people will have a bit of fear,” said 22-year old Zhou Xiangning, a Wuhan resident who caught the virus in mid-January. “Not a fear of the virus returning, but fear from the memories of that time,” he said over a steaming bamboo tray of soup filled thin-skinned dumplings.

Wuhan and its roughly 11 million residents were abruptly locked down on 23 January after weeks of being told that the virus was controllable, preventable and not contagious. The aim was to limit greater spread of the disease that has since become known as Covid-19, and that has spread around the world and killed almost 2 million people.

Subsequently, China’s obfuscation and dreadful response led to the pandemic we are all dealing with today. And the Chinese distortions about the virus in their country continue to this day.


The extent of the Chinese Communist Party suppression of the initial phase of the outbreak is slowly coming to light. For example, the number of cases of infection in Wuhan appears to be ten times higher than originally reported.

Almost 500,000 residents in Wuhan, where the coronavirus pandemic originated, may have been infected with the deadly bug — nearly 10 times the recorded tally, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

A study by the agency used a sample of 34,000 people in the central China metropolis of some 1 million residents and other cities in Hubei province, as well as Beijing, Shanghai and several other provinces to estimate the infection rates, CNN reported.

About 4.4 percent of those tested in Wuhan — which had reported a total of 50,354 confirmed cases, according to the city’s Municipal Health Commission — were found to have specific antibodies that can fight the virus.

The study sought to estimate the scope of previous infections in a population by testing blood serum samples from a pool of people for antibodies.

Interestingly, a study of 10 million Chinese finds little evidence that asymptomatic COVID spreads:

A mass screening programme of more than 10 million Wuhan residents identified 300 asymptomatic cases, but none were infectious, according to a study involving the University of East Anglia.

The mass testing project took place over two weeks at the end of May — after the city’s stringent lockdown was lifted in April.

The study found no ‘viable’ virus in the asymptomatic cases and the close contacts of these positive asymptomatic cases did not test positive.

Findings such as this would have been useful earlier on, so that more effective mitigation methods that didn’t upend our lives would have been useful. Of course, now all scientists have to add the provisos that masks must be worn and social distancing maintained . . . otherwise their work is likely to remain unpublished.

While it is hard to predict where we will be a year from now in regards to the pandemic, I will project that China’s influence on our media and politicians will mean suppression of information and reports that may lead to an easing of the pandemic restrictions now in place for all nations . . . with the exception of China.


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