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Global Times

Eight Wuhan residents praised for "whistle-blowing" virus outbreak

Global Times

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/1/29 22:41:04

A top epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) on Wednesday commended eight residents of Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, who were detained in early January for spreading "rumors" about the outbreak of the novel coronavirus that has since rattled the entire country.

In an exclusive interview with Global Times' Editor-in-chief Hu Xijin, Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist at the CCDC, said those eight residents should be highly regarded as they turned out to be correct about the viral outbreak, even though the information they spread "lacked scientific evidence".

The eight residents were briefly detained by Wuhan police after they circulated online "rumors" that cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the viral respiratory illness that battered China in the spring of 2003, were detected in some of Wuhan's hospitals.

The residents were released shortly but news about the arrests angered many in the country as the novel coronavirus continued to spread in the country. Many termed that detaining the eight whistle-blowers as evidence of local authorities' incompetence to tackle a contagious and deadly virus.

Hu, who had written a good number of posts on his personal Weibo account about the arrests, asked Zeng in the interview whether medical experts knew about the virus at that time.

"In retrospect, we should highly praise them. They were wise before the outbreak," Zeng said, adding though that any judgment needs to be backed by scientific evidence.

Zeng's comment followed an article from the Supreme People's Court of China (SPC) on Tuesday, in which the top court said that the eight Wuhan residents should be "tolerated" and their act of spreading the information, if taken seriously, would have done much good to the public.

"Facts show that, although the novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia was not SARS, information released by the eight people were not entirely fabricated," the SPC article said. The article further added that the information would have pushed the public to take preventive measures more promptly, which could have been a "fortunate thing" given the current efforts needed to contain the virus.

As the number of novel coronavirus cases continues to rise, Chinese officials have intensified their efforts to contain the outbreak and become more active in releasing information about the epidemic. For example, the National Health Commission and the Hubei provincial government now hold daily press conferences to brief the public on the latest progress of the "devil" virus.



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