Families of people killed by the coronavirus at ground zero of the epidemic in Wuhan, China, said Thursday that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is silencing them during a visit from World Health Organization (W.H.O.) investigators.
Relatives of the Wuhan dead who banded together on social media to seek accountability for CCP officials have never been treated well by their government, but on Thursday AFP reported they are under increasing pressure to keep quiet during W.H.O.’s investigation into the origins of the Chinese coronavirus:
A group on social media platform WeChat used by 80 to 100 family members over the past year was suddenly deleted without explanation about 10 days ago, said Zhang Hai, a group member and a vocal critic of the outbreak’s handling.
“This shows that (Chinese authorities) are very nervous. They are afraid that these families will get in touch with the WHO experts,” said Zhang, 51, whose father died early in the pandemic of suspected Covid-19 [coronavirus].
“When the WHO arrived in Wuhan, (authorities) forcibly demolished (the group). As a result we have lost contact with many members,” Zhang added.
Among other activities troublesome to the CCP, the Wuhan survivors’ group has accused officials of severely under-counting the number of infected and dead in Wuhan and helping the virus to spread by attempting to conceal the outbreak in late 2019.
The W.H.O. team completed its mandatory quarantine Thursday, two weeks after arriving in Wuhan. The investigators donned their masks and climbed into a bus that whisked them away to parts unknown. Some members of the team compared emerging from quarantine to landing on the moon or getting to enjoy recess after a long day at school.
“I lived opposite two of the others in the team, so it was my hope that every time they knocked on the door, that the other two also went out and had their temperature measured, so you could at least exchange a few words and see a human being. But we were always asked kindly but firmly, like some naughty children, to go back to our rooms,” said Danish investigator Thea Fischer.
“In a mission dogged by delays and obfuscation from their Chinese hosts, it was not clear what the expert team will be allowed to see in Wuhan — or what useful evidence remains a year after the outbreak in a country which has vigorously controlled the narrative of how the pandemic began,” reported RTHK, adding that the relatives of the Wuhan dead have asked to meet with the W.H.O. team.
“China, which for months rejected calls for an international probe, has pledged adequate access for the researchers. The team is expected to spend several weeks interviewing people from research institutes, hospitals and a market linked to many of the first cases,” Voice of America News (VOA) wrote Thursday.
The White House said on Wednesday it is “imperative that we get to the bottom of the early days of the pandemic in China, and we’ve been supportive of an international investigation that we feel should be robust and clear.”