Published: 17:38, June 7, 2020 | Updated: 01:05, June 6, 2023
China denies delaying, hiding coronavirus data
By Xinhua

Ma Xiaowei, director of the National Health Commission, addresses a news conference in Beijing, China, June 7, 2020. (PHOTO / SCIO.GOV.CN)

BEIJING – The Chinese government has never delayed data release or concealed information of the novel coronavirus, Ma Xiaowei, director of China’s National Health Commission, said Sunday, stressing that the international community was informed of the virus and related pandemic situation in real time.

Some foreign media has reported that the Chinese government stalled for about a week the release of the genetic data of the novel coronavirus because China concealed the epidemic situation early in the outbreak, causing the virus to spread worldwide.

Such reports "completely deny the facts", Ma said. The truth is that the Chinese government shared with the world its findings immediately and made important contribution to the world's prevention and control work, he added.

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When the novel coronavirus firstly emerged, there remained a lot of unknowns in terms of the pathogen, incubation period, transmission mode and transmissivity, source of infection and human body's immunity to the novel coronavirus, the official pointed out.

China started to inform the WHO and the US of relevant information regularly since Jan 3, three days after the National Health Commission set up an expert team, said Ma Xiaowei

"It required a period of evidence accumulation and a gradual deepening of the understanding to master the characteristics of the virus," he said, adding that the knowledge to it is still limited today.

He said the government has always held an open, transparent and responsible attitude after the outbreak. It established a response mechanism in the first place and raced every second to research on etiology and epidemiology.

China was able to identify the pathogen in eight days and successfully develop testing reagents in 16 days. China also reported the outbreak to the World Health Organization and shared with it the genetic sequence in no time, he added.

Since a hospital in Wuhan, Hubei province, reported the case of a novel viral pneumonia to the local disease control center on Dec 27, the central government responded to the situation very quickly, he said.

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The National Health Commission on Dec 31 set up an expert team and sent it to Wuhan to guide the prevention work and China started to inform the WHO and the United States of relevant information regularly since Jan 3.

On Jan 7, China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention isolated the novel coronavirus and on Jan 12 China deposited the sequence of the novel coronavirus genome in Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID).

In this April 24, 2020 photo, medical workers take care of COVID-19 patients in a ward at the west campus of the Union Hospital affiliated to Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province. (SHEN BOHAN / XINHUA)

China identified the new infectious disease and its pathogen and transmission routes in such a short period of time and notified the world, showing an open, transparent and responsible image from the very early stage, Ma said.

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The National Health Commission started to release daily updates of the outbreak situation from Jan 21. The WHO experts have also believed the Chinese government took decisive and powerful measures in a timely manner that effectively avoided infection of hundreds of thousands of people, he added.

These are the facts early in the outbreak with a very clear timeline, Ma said. The work done by the Chinese government and scientists can stand the test of history and time, he said.