Reports say China withheld information on novel coronavirus outbreak, Americans want China to pay damages


Foreign news reports have revealed that China, where the novel coronavirus outbreak had first occurred, had withheld crucial information about the outbreak that may have worsened the situation about the global pandemic.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China.

According to a Reuters in London, China concealed crucial information about the novel coronavirus outbreak from the rest of the world and so should answer for its deceit, the former head of Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence service said on Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) which he said had promoted China’s “disinformation” about the virus.

John Sawers, the chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, from 2009 to 2014, said it would be better to hold China responsible rather than the WHO.

“There is deep anger in America at what they see as having been inflicted on us all by China and China is evading a good deal of responsibility for the origin of the virus, for failing to deal with it initially,” Sawers told the BBC.

“Intelligence is about acquiring information which has been concealed from you by other states and other actors, there was a brief period in December and January when the Chinese were indeed concealing this from the West.”

The other report was published by the Associated Press (AP).

In the six days after top Chinese officials secretly determined they likely were facing a pandemic from a new coronavirus, the city of Wuhan at the epicenter of the disease hosted a mass banquet for tens of thousands of people; millions began traveling through for Lunar New Year celebrations.

President Xi Jinping warned the public on the seventh day, Jan. 20. But by that time, more than 3,000 people had been infected during almost a week of public silence, according to internal documents obtained by The Associated Press and expert estimates based on retrospective infection data.

That delay from Jan. 14 to Jan. 20 was neither the first mistake made by Chinese officials at all levels in confronting the outbreak, nor the longest lag, as governments around the world have dragged their feet for weeks and even months in addressing the virus.

On the other hand, in a Fox News report, Sen. Josh Hawley unveiled new legislation this week to allow victims of the coronavirus pandemic to sue the Chinese Communist Party directly for damages by stripping the government of its sovereign immunity.

The Missouri Republican said the “Justice for Victims of COVID-19 Act” will also create a State Department task force to investigate Beijing’s handling of the outbreak and help secure money from the Chinese government for the victims.

“The CCP unleashed this pandemic,” Hawley said. “They must be held accountable to their victims.”

There’s already two major class-action lawsuits underway against China filed by the Berman Law Group, a Florida-based firm. The original suit was filed in March on behalf of coronavirus victims and another case was brought in April by healthcare professionals suing China for hoarding personal protective equipment. The lawyers on the case argued China’s actions met a legal exception for immunity, but Hawley’s legislation would bolster the chance for thousands of American victims to receive justice, the lawsuit advocates say.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Jeremy Alters, chief firm strategist at the Berman Law Group and non-attorney spokesman, told Fox News of Hawley’s bill. “I think it shows that he is looking forward to a remedy for this terrible situation that has happened. It will make the hurdles that we have in our lawsuit much easier to clear. And it will allow the people of the United States to recover at least some compensation for what the CCP has done.”

Americans wanting to join the lawsuits can visit:

Hawley’s legislation would make the Chinese government subject to civil claims filed in U.S. courts. It would also launch an international investigation to determine how Beijing’s efforts to conceal and distort information put the world at risk and create a global effort to compel the Chinese government to provide restitution to victims, Hawley’s office said.

“There is overwhelming evidence that the Chinese Communist Party’s lies, deceit and incompetence caused COVID-19 to transform from a local disease outbreak into a global pandemic,” Hawley said in a statement. “We need an international investigation to learn the full extent of the damage the CCP has inflicted on the world and then we need to empower Americans and other victims around the world to recover damages.”/Reports collated by Stacy Ang

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