Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post has reported that as of Friday night, there were nearly 1,500 cases of coronavirus and 42 related fatalities on record thus far, with all of the deaths having occurred in mainland China.
In response to growing concerns about further spread of the potentially deadly virus, the Chinese government has deployed military resources to Wuhan, the city that sits at the epicenter of the outbreak.
According to the paper, those resources include some 40 medical officers from the communist People’s Liberation Army, with more personnel expected to follow.
When asked during a press conference whether Beijing considered the epidemic a global health emergency, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Thursday said that no formal determination had yet been reached on that issue.
“As I know, parties concerned will stay in close communication and coordination on evaluation and possible adjustment of prevention and control measures. The committee plans to hold another meeting later,” he was quoted on a Chinese government website as saying, according to Breitbart.
Shuang reportedly added, “Acting with openness, transparency, and a high sense of responsibility to global health security, Chinese authorities will continue to share information of the epidemic with the WHO [World Health Organization], relevant nations, and China’s Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan regions in a timely manner.”
Lack of transparency alleged
However, anonymous sources who spoke to the South China Morning Post said the Chinese regime wasn’t being as transparent as its spokesperson claimed.
“You can find infected medical practitioners in almost all major hospitals in Wuhan. The number is certainly far higher than 15 [as claimed by government officials],” one doctor reportedly said.
Another source asserted that protective gear hadn’t been used because “many were not initially informed about the potential for people-to-person transmission.”
What’s more, care is allegedly being allocated on the basis of political considerations. Radio Free Asia reported on Wednesday that a prominent Chinese environmental advocate and his wife died of a respiratory condition characterized by coronavirus symptoms, though their deaths were officially attributed to pneumonia. The activist had been turned away and denied medical attention when his daughter took him to a hospital.
The broadcast news service is also reporting that Chinese law enforcement agencies are cracking down on speech, warning citizens against making “disruptive” comments about the crisis on social media.
“Anyone posting information and comments online should abide by [China’s] laws and regulations,” a statement read. “The police will investigate and punish anyone fabricating and spreading rumors and disrupting social order.”