A question which has been emerging since the Coronavirus hit earth is- When did the Chinese government come to know about the outbreak in Hubei's Wuhan city.
Earlier, it was revealed that six days after top Chinese authorities understood that they are probably facing a pandemic in January, authorities in the initial epicenter Wuhan allowed a mass banquet for tens of thousands of people. Meanwhile millions of Chinese nationals began their annual trip home for the Lunar New Year celebrations.
But recently, in an interview with ABC7 News, a couple from California's Bay Area has described their trip to Wuhan, two months before the Coronavirus was first reported to the World Health Organization. While recalling the visit to Wuhan in November, the couple mentioned that "The whole thing was just a little off... it didn't quite make sense at the time."
The Trip to Wuhan
In early November, Charlie and Margaret Getz went for a seven-day voyage along the famous Yangtze River, the longest river in Asia that flows 6,300 km in a generally easterly direction to the East China Sea. They said that when they arrived in Wuhan, they were told that "There was going to be a change" and their overnight stay in Wuhan, turned into a brief three-hour visit.
After getting off the Wuhan flight, the couple was rushed to the history museum of the city. As per Getz, they could not find any local residents around when the couple went to the Wuhan museum, and then the travel plan changed, as the Wuhan city tour was canceled.
Getz said that "We were told we immediately have to leave that night, not the next day," even though there was no warning and no explosion. "My wife Margaret said, 'Wait for a second, we're supposed to look at these historic districts. What's going on here?' They said, 'No, no, no.' Then, they said, 'Oh there's a lot of traffic on the river.'" But as mentioned by Getz, there was very little traffic as he did not see anything. "We just zipped right along...it all seemed very weird," he added.
Such a weird and unexpected situation the couple had faced only in Wuhan, long before the Coronavirus cases were reported by the city authorities. Is this just a coincidence?
However, it should be noted that the government first reported the Coronavirus cases in China's Wuhan, the initial epicenter of the outbreak, on December 31, 2019. The U.S. CDC was informed about the spread of the COVID-19 in January, almost two months after the couple's visit.
U.C. Berkeley scientist Lee Riley, who studies infectious diseases told ABC7, "It's certainly possible they knew something about what was going on. The fact that they weren't allowed to go into the market...it sounds like something was already going on in early November."
A Few Things Which Can Connect the Dots
One month before the visit of the Bay Area couple, private analysis of cell phone location data showed that the Wuhan lab which has been studying bat Coronavirus was shut down in October 2019. It was revealed that there may have been a "hazardous event" sometime between October 6 and October 11 which caused the shutdown.
It should be noted that even though many researchers have questioned the timeline as a COVID-19, the first known Coronavirus case in China has been traced back to November 17, while an infection case has been documented in France in December. A recent report claimed that pandemic began "earlier than initially reported" and it "supports the release of COVID-19 at the Wuhan Institute of Virology." But the document doesn't show any direct evidence to support that assertion.