A communist official, who has a reputation for being emotionally unstable, accused U.S. service personnel of starting a deadly viral outbreak in mainland China.
Zhao Lijian has accused the United States of starting the coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide pandemic. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman hypothesized that patient zero was not native to the country’s central city of Wuhan, and the U.S. military brought the disease in from North America.
“When did patient zero begin in United States?” he said on Twitter. “How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be U.S. Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.”
Zhao did not produce any evidence from China to support his claim, rather relied on a short Twitter video of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) finding that some Americans were diagnosed with influenza instead of the coronavirus.
“Some cases have actually been diagnosed that way [as influenza instead of COVID-19,]” CDC Director Robert Redfield can be heard telling the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on coronavirus preparedness and response on March 12. “Some cases actually have been diagnosed that way in the United States to date.”
Zhao quickly concluded the federally funded U.S. agency had admitted fault for the virus.
“CDC was caught on the spot,” he said. “Redfield admitted some Americans, who seemingly died from influenza, were tested positive for novel coronavirus in the posthumous diagnosis … be transparent, make public your data. [The] United States owe[s] us an explanation.”
However, Zhao failed to mention the difficulty in determining whether a patient who has flu-like symptoms actually contracted the coronavirus. He also did not acknowledge the challenge of identifying the disease in multiple health institutions across America that do not have an additional screening process.
“The standard practice is the first thing you do is test for influenza but, if they have influenza, they would test positive,” Redfield said. “There is a surveillance system of death from pneumonia that the CDC has that is not in every city, state and hospital.”
At the time of publication at least 80,800 people had tested positive to the disease and 3,177 had already died in Mainland China. The United States recorded more than 1,760 cases and 41 deaths according to the Worldometer website.
There are also nearly 98 percent fewer patients infected with the coronavirus, and almost 99 percent fewer deaths from the virus in the United States compared to China according to Worldometer.
President Donald Trump did not respond directly to Zhao’s social media post and instead stressed the Trump administration is addressing the worldwide epidemic.
“[At least] 108 countries are dealing with the coronavirus problem, some of which we are helping,” he said on Twitter.