HKU dismisses claim from former employee that China covered up coronavirus

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/12 18:23:51

Staff members do nucleic acid testing work at a novel coronavirus detection lab in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Cheng Min)

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) on Saturday dismissed accusations made by a former staff member who claimed that China had covered up the coronavirus. The university said the former employee who claimed to be "one of the first scientists to study the novel coronavirus" had actually never conducted related research in December and January and that her statement appears to resemble hearsay.

Fox News recently had an exclusive interview with Yan Limeng, a former post-doctoral fellow at HKU who fled to the US from Hong Kong in April and claimed to be "one of the first scientists in the world to study the novel coronavirus." She told Fox that she would be killed if she told the "truth" about the origin of COVID-19 in Hong Kong.  

Through a website announcement, HKU noted that the content of the said news report does not accord with the key facts as the university understands them. Specifically, Yan never conducted any research on human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus at HKU during December 2019 and January 2020, her central assertion of the interview.

"We further observe that what she might have emphasized in the reported interview has no scientific basis, but resembles hearsay," said HKU.

Some observers said that as an unknown researcher who has never been to the frontline of the anti-coronavirus fight, Yan's po-faced performance was amusing, especially when accusing China of not giving enough protection and treatment to medical workers and patients, as the epidemic has already been brought under control in China.

She was also unconfident and vague when it came to the time of the outbreak, with some observers noting that the "distinguished whistleblower" only mentioned that her "friend" told her on December 31 about human-to-human transmission and that her boss in HKU was silent when she reported it on January 16.

According to the timeline made public by the Chinese government, hospitals in Wuhan reported the "unknown pneumonia" to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Wuhan's Jianghan District as early as December 27. On December 30, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission issued an emergency notice on the treatment of pneumonia of unknown causes. On January 12, China made public the novel coronavirus genome sequence information in the global influenza shared database. 

Fox News reported that the FBI was allegedly called in to investigate Yan after she arrived at Los Angeles International Airport. Yan claimed they interviewed her for hours, took her cellphone as evidence and allowed her to continue to her destination.

The Chinese Embassy in the US told Fox News recently that they don't know who Yan is, and the Chinese government has responded swiftly and effectively to COVID-19 since its outbreak, adding that all its efforts have been clearly documented in the white paper "Fighting COVID-19: China in Action" with full transparency.


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