The U.S. leaned forward and took immediate action in an attempt to grasp the magnitude and subsequent impact of the virus. The U.S. Intelligence Community had information on the situation in China and the early outbreak of the Coronavirus in Wuhan. President Trump had the information and acted early on to better understand the ramification and impact in order to prevent the spread.
The President in order to reduce political sensitivities, embarrassment, and panic addressed his warnings and concerns with China’s leadership through direct phone calls and diplomatic channels. After analyzing and assessing the situation and the potential impact both in China and the likelihood of it spreading internationally, President Trump through a number of U.S. agencies, offered China assistance.
In this effort, the President offered assistance from the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Nation Institute of Health, the U.S. Military, and the U.S State Department.
Despite the rising numbers in both coronavirus infections and fatalities, China’s President Xi refused offers of assistance from the foremost agencies on infectious disease. On multiple occasions, starting in late December and early January, the President had offered to send a team of experts from the U.S. Epidemic Intelligence Service. Unfortunately, China pushed back. The back and forth offer and refusal went on for more than a month to no avail, through late February.
Similarly, as a note, the same occurred with the World Health Organization which also met resistance in both offering assistance and to travel to Wuhan to analyze the situation.
A number of U.S. top diplomats reported back to the President that they were deeply concerned that China did not and does not want to appear to be unable to handle the on-going epidemic problem alone.
President Trump by offering the assistance of the CDC, that he hoped that by observing the medical conditions, it could improve an American response to any threat of a widespread outbreak in the U.S.. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar confirmed this in early February, saying, “We continue to expect fully that President Xi will accept our offer. We’re ready and willing and able to go.
Nevertheless, AND THIS IS IMPORTANT, as a result, had the Chinese authorities had acted three-weeks earlier — the number of coronavirus cases could have been reduced by 95% and its worldwide geographic spread limited.
Unfortunately, China’s negative reaction, refusal of assistance and deliberate and intentional effort to cover-up the crisis and the subsequent delay in accepting assistance of critical capabilities and help in taking necessary measures to contain the virus lasted about three weeks. This was totally reprehensible on the part of President Xi and the Chinese Government.
Again, bottom line – China’s cover-up and the subsequent delay to take serious measures to contain the virus, lasted at least three weeks which helped fuel the pandemic.
The news organization Axios Media has compiled a timeline of the earliest weeks of the Coronavirus outbreak in China. *I will note that as a source, Axios has a ‘left of center’ political bias that favors the Left. The Axios timeline highlights when China’s cover-up started and ended — and showing how, during that time, the virus already started spreading throughout the world, including to the United States.
According to Axios, the timeline was compiled from information reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the South China Morning Post, and other international sources. The chart/timeline back-up the intent of President Trump and the critical events leading up to current situation.
Dec. 10: Wei Guixian, one of the earliest known coronavirus patients, starts feeling ill.
Dec. 16: Patient admitted to Wuhan Central Hospital with infection in both lungs but resistant to anti-flu drugs. Staff later learned he worked at a wildlife market connected to the outbreak.
Dec. 27: Wuhan health officials are told that a new coronavirus is causing the illness.
- Ai Fen, a top director at Wuhan Central Hospital, posts information on WeChat about the new virus. She was reprimanded for doing so and told not to spread information about it.
- Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang also shares information on WeChat about the new SARS-like virus. He is called in for questioning shortly afterward.
- Wuhan health commission notifies hospitals of a “pneumonia of unclear cause” and orders them to report any related information.
- Wuhan health officials confirm 27 cases of illness and close a market they think is related to the virus’ spread.
- China tells the World Health Organization’s China office about the cases of an unknown illness.
Jan. 1: Wuhan Public Security Bureau brings in for questioning eight doctors who had posted information about the illness on WeChat.
- An official at the Hubei Provincial Health Commission orders labs, which had already determined that the novel virus was similar to SARS, to stop testing samples and to destroy existing samples.
Jan. 2: Chinese researchers map the new coronavirus’ complete genetic information. This information is not made public until Jan. 9.
Jan. 7: Xi Jinping becomes involved in the response.
Jan. 9: China announces it has mapped the coronavirus genome.
Jan. 11–17: Important prescheduled CCP meeting held in Wuhan. During that time, the Wuhan Health Commission insists there are no new cases.
Jan. 13: First coronavirus case reported in Thailand, the first known case outside China.
Jan. 14: WHO announces Chinese authorities have seen “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.”
Jan. 15: The patient who becomes the first confirmed U.S. case leaves Wuhan and arrives in the U.S., carrying the coronavirus.
- The Wuhan Health Commission announces four new cases.
- Annual Wuhan Lunar New Year banquet. Tens of thousands of people gathered for a potluck.
Jan. 19: Beijing sends epidemiologists to Wuhan.
- The first case announced in South Korea.
- Zhong Nanshan, a top Chinese doctor who is helping to coordinate the coronavirus response, announces the virus can be passed between people.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms the first coronavirus case in the United States.
- CCP flagship newspaper People’s Daily mentions the coronavirus epidemic and Xi’s actions to fight it for the first time.
- China’s top political commission in charge of law and order warns that “anyone who deliberately delays and hides the reporting of [virus] cases out of his or her own self-interest will be nailed on the pillar of shame for eternity.”
Jan. 23: Wuhan and three other cities are put on lockdown. Right around this time, approximately 5 million people leave the city without being screened for the illness.
Jan. 24–30: China celebrates the Lunar New Year holiday. Hundreds of millions of people are in transit around the country as they visit relatives.
Jan. 24: China extends the lockdown to cover 36 million people and starts to rapidly build a new hospital in Wuhan. From this point, very strict measures continue to be implemented around the country for the rest of the epidemic.
The bottom line: China is now trying to create a narrative that it’s an example of how to handle this crisis when in fact its early actions led to the virus spreading around the globe.