Free Speech in China, a Global Health Issue? – Trustnodes

Free Speech in China, a Global Health Issue?


A Wuhan doctor who raised the alarm back in December has now told her story of how she was silenced and made to feel that she alone “had ruined the future of Wuhan.”

Ai Fen, director of the emergency department at Wuhan Central Hospital, said she initially shared a diagnostic report with a messaging group on WeChat which concerned her because the infection appeared to be similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome.

For that she received a dressing down for “spreading rumours.” Her supervisor told her:

“Wuhan’s health commission had issued a directive that medical workers were not to disclose anything about the virus, or the disease it caused, to avoid sparking a panic. Soon after, the hospital reminded all staff that public disclosure related to the illness was forbidden.”

The first diagnosis was made on December the 1st 2019. She says human to human transmission was obvious weeks before officials confirmed it as family members were catching corona.

“If there’s no people-to-people transmission, why did the patients continue to increase after the Huanan market was closed?” – the Wuhan doctor said.

Whispers of this virus began in the west in mid-January, many weeks since the first Wuhan doctors raised the alarm starting around mid-December.

Heads then turned when China announced a quarantine of millions of people and the building of two hospitals in ten days.

Yet whether there was any human to human transmission was still unclear in the west with a report by Imperial on 17th of January stating only that “human to human transmission cannot be ruled out.”

A few days later, on the 22nd of January, Imperial says “given the increasing evidence for human-to-human transmission, enhancing rapid case detection will be essential if the outbreak is to be controlled.”

Had the Wuhan doctors been able to freely speak, it is probable the west would have been far better informed, and thus could have taken preventive measures far sooner.

The cover up instead allowed this to spread to the point it could not be contained without drastic measures as flights in and out of China continued due to Chinese authorities downplaying it to the point they accused Trump of causing panic after he announced any non-American citizen or resident that had visited China could not enter.

If the west had been given full information ad initio, there probably would have been far more pressure from the medical profession to impose such travel ban far earlier.

Their demands for it reached fever pitch around the end of January after evidence became clear of human to human transmition.

Doctors threatened to go on strike, and some even did in Hong Kong, but by that point it was too late, this had already spread globally.

The good news is that the latest report by Imperial corroborates China’s story that infection rates are going down there.

So this can be contained, but as we are seeing not without a significant economic cost as China allowed it to spread too much by covering it up for weeks.

Had they been proactive as soon as human to human transmission became clear to front-line doctors, and thus had they traced all those that came into contract with infected individuals back in December, this could have been contained far better within China.

In addition, had such information been known globally at the same time, as would have been likely if doctors could speak freely, then the medical profession would have been in a better position globally to know what advice to give and at what tone.

By the time they had to establish such facts sort of by themselves, they made it forcefully clear flights with China had to be cancelled, but that was after nearly two months of infected people freely traveling across the globe.

The measure still wasn’t for nothing. The point is of course to slow the spread to keep it at bay until warmer weather, with China’s drop in infection coinciding with more springy weather there.

It’s not yet fully confirmed however whether a warmer climate would be the best disinfectant, with another aspect here being the hopefully natural evolution of this new virus towards being less damaging to health.

Yet contrasting Italy’s response to that of China, Italy moved to cancel all entries and exits to the entire country, after briefly limiting it to just Lombardy.

China instead criticized Trump for the travel ban on the 31st of January even though Wuhan had been quarantined slightly more than a week earlier on the 23rd of January when China should have fully restricted travel in and out of the country seeing as by the point of that quarantine they new very well just how this could DDoS the health service.

They also new some five million had travelled out of Wuhan. Quite a few got out of Milan as well just before the restrictions, hence perhaps why the government there extended it to the whole country.

The haphazard nation based approach towards China instead, in addition to the ridiculous World Health Organization (WHO) advice against travel bans, hasn’t worked as effectively as it could have done because people just go through different flying routs.

So China has proved once more why such basic principles like freedom of speech are superior, and the main reason is one, because it allows for a far quicker response to events.

In addition, the global public would have been far better informed. Instead, we are all paying the cost of Chinese authoritarianism.

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