As the United States and China are playing the blame game over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, a Chinese state-led newspaper is trying to push a new theory that a US cyclist was responsible for spreading the deadly virus that has claimed more than 24,000 lives and infected over 5,32,000 people around the world.
Chinese newspaper says US cyclist was first COVID-19 patient
While tensions between both countries have been brewing for weeks over who is to blame for the outbreak, the Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times has run a story claiming that a US military cyclist was the source of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 25, the English-language newspaper published the story, citing known US conspiracy theorist George Webb and claiming that the virus was manufactured in a US military lab and brought into China by a cyclist named Maatje Benassi who participated in the World Military Games in Wuhan in October.
The publication asked the US to "release health and infection information of the U.S. military delegation which came to Wuhan for the Military World Games in October," before adding that this information would put an end to any doubts that US military athletes brought the virus into China.
The theory linking the coronavirus outbreak to the US military athletes' visit to the sporting event in Wuhan was first endorsed by foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, in a tweet earlier this month.
COVID-19 origins trace back to shrimp seller in Wuhan
While one Chinese newspaper tries to push the conspiracy theory that the US is responsible for the coronavirus outbreak, another Chinese outlet The Paper claims a seafood merchant in one of Wuhan's wet markets is believed to be the first person infected with COVID-19 according to leaked documents, as reported by The Daily Mail.
The Chinese publication reported that local officials have identified a 57-year-old shrimp seller named Wei Guixian as "patient zero." Guixian apparently first started showing symptoms on Dec. 10. At the time, she thought nothing more of it than a common cold, so she walked to a local clinic to get some medication and then went back to work – potentially spreading the virus to several others.
"I felt a bit tired, but not as tired as previous years," she told the Chinese news outlet The Paper, recalling her initial symptoms. "Every winter, I always suffer from the flu. So I thought it was the flu."
Eight days later, she found herself in a barely conscious state, clinging to her life on a hospital bed, when doctors told her that she had a "ruthless" illness and that several others from the area seemed to also have.
According to a statement from the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission on December 31, Wei was among the first 27 patients diagnosed with COVID-19, and one of the 24 cases who had direct links to the Huanan wet Market.