It’s rare for China’s top court to use strong language against the country’s police force. After all, they are both part of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).
So, it was surprising when the Supreme People’s Court hauled up the Wuhan police for detaining and questioning a group of eight persons for sharing posts on social media about a “SARS-like” fever spreading in the city on January 1.
The eight, along with an unidentified doctor from a Wuhan hospital, were harassed by the police for sharing a post that said several patients had been diagnosed with pneumonia – all from a seafood and fish market in the city.
Yes, the same market to which more than 90 percent of the cases have been linked.
The doctor, according to the Beijing Youth Daily, had even clarified in the group that it was a new type of virus.
Instead of an alert, the posts were taken as “rumours”.
The judge was furious.
“It might have been a fortunate thing if the public had believed the ‘rumour’ then and started to wear masks and carry out sanitisation measures, and avoid the wild animal market,” the judge said.
“Facts show that, although the novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia was not SARS, information released by the eight people was not entirely fabricated,” the Court said in a social media update.
The judge was clearly voicing public opinion this time.
The doctor and the rest of the group received support from one of China’s top epidemiologists who commended them for being alert.
“In retrospect, we should highly praise them. They were wise before the outbreak,” Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention told the tabloid Global Times.
The January 1 alert from the Wuhan group shows that the virulent Coronavirus was in stealthy circulation from December if not earlier in the city.
Many online users, the tabloid said, termed that detaining of the eight whistle-blowers as evidence of “…local authorities’ incompetence to tackle a contagious and deadly virus”.
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