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This opinion article is being published by POLITICO as part of a content partnership with the South China Morning Post. It originally appeared on scmp.com on April 4, 2020.To get more news about coronavirus in shanghai, you can visit shine news official website.

By now, the early history of Covid-19 is well known, if not clear in its details. The virus was first detected somewhere around Wuhan, in Hubei province, then appears to have entered the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, from where it infected many others. Doctors in Wuhan first noticed the novel coronavirus in December and began exchanging urgent warnings. Local government authorities set out to silence them; some were detained and made to sign documents admitting wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, Wuhan officials went about business as usual, which included a disastrous Lunar New Year banquet attended by about 40,000 families. Soon, many more thousands around Wuhan were infected, with hundreds dead or dying, including ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, who had been punished for trying to raise the alarm.

Realizing it was in the firing line not just for running the nation that had unleashed the deadly virus on the world but also for ignoring, covering up and denying its spread, China’s Communist Party moved into damage-control mode. This included suggesting it was the United States that was responsible for the virus.

Chinese state media regularly tweet propaganda and what many describe as “fake news”. Global Times has 1.7 million followers on Twitter; China Xinhua News, 12.6 million; People’s Daily, 7.1 million; China Daily, 4.3 million; and China Global Television Network (CGTN), 14 million.

Zhao Lijian, spokesman and deputy director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ information department, had 287,000 followers when he tweeted a link to a conspi­racy website alleging the U.S. was responsible for the virus. (Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying had 146,700 followers; the ministry’s “spokesperson” account, used by Geng Shuang, had 61,000; and Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Global Times, had 175,000.)

With the outbreak of an epidemic, one of the first jobs of scientists and doctors, even while they fight to save lives, is to identify its source. This is critical in the search for medicines to combat a virus and a vaccine to prevent its spread.

On January 24, an article written jointly by 29 Chinese medical doctors and scientists was published in The Lancet, one of the world’s leading medical journals. The authors shared their findings from a study of patients who were suspected of having been infected with 2019-nCoV and had been admitted to a Wuhan hospital. The report said that by January 2, 41 of them had been “laboratory-confirmed” as infected with the virus – which causes Covid-19 – and two-thirds of those infected “had been exposed to the Huanan market”.

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How China’s fake news machine is rewriting the history of Covid-19