This news commentary got me thinking:
>In China, questions are being asked about the failure of its multimillion-dollar, state-of-the-art early warning system, set up in the wake of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak in 2002-2003. Just one year ago, in March 2019, the director of China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told reporters that, while a virus could emerge at any time, it would not in future cause an epidemic on the scale of Sars. CDC spent $ 100 million to build a reporting and early warning system for the CDC after Sars but they failed miserably. A leaked document from Wuhan Central Hospital this week indirectly confirmed that the early warning system was not activated during the early period of the outbreak. The document showed doctors were under instructions not to report any cases until they had been vetted and approved by their supervisors. They were also forbidden from disclosing any information to the public without permission. Doctors who did speak out in the early days of the outbreak faced consequences. Ai Fen, head of Wuhan Central Hospital’s emergency department, was muzzled by local authorities after raising the alarm without permission at the end of December. Another doctor, Li Wenliang, shared her information privately with a group of medical school alumni and was reprimanded by local police for “spreading rumours”. Weeks later, Li was killed by the disease and was hailed in China as a whistle-blower and a martyr. Official reports have documented that leading experts from China’s National Health Commission made two separate visits to Wuhan, just a week apart in early January, and reported no evidence of human transmission of the virus. It has since emerged that there was evidence of human transmission occurring in Wuhan as early as December.
I found myself thinking about it all day. At one point I realized that it reminded me of the Chernobyl TV series I had recently watched. Another communist government (USSR) had allowed a catastrophe to occur and made it worse because of the way the authorities handled it: protecting the regime in power was more important than the safety of the people. The authorities denied that the catastrophe was happening even though the evidence was in plain sight. I didn't know, until watching the series, that this mishandling very nearly caused a much worse catastrophe that would have made all of Ukraine and beyond uninhabitable. Gorbachev said some years later that this incident caused the end of the USSR.