Story at a glance

  • China’s political body responsible for law and order says anyone behind a cover up would “be nailed on the pillar of shame for eternity.”
  • During the deadly SARS outbreak in the early 2000s, China was criticized for covering up the severity of the outbreak, costing lives.
  • Nearly 300 people have been infected with the new coronavirus, and six have died.

Leaders in China are warning officials not to conceal the spread of a new coronavirus that has infected almost 300 people in at least three countries and left six people dead.

The BBC reports the Chinese political body responsible for law and order said anyone who tried to cover up new confirmed cases would “be nailed on the pillar of shame for eternity,” as the country tries to put the world at ease that it will be transparent in the handling of the outbreak. 

State media claims at least six people have died from the type of pneumonia that can be passed from person to person, and the World Health Organization will consider declaring an international public health emergency over the Wuhan coronavirus Wednesday. The virus is believed to have originated from infected animals at a seafood market in Wuhan. 

At least 291 cases have been reported throughout China in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, with the majority of cases in Wuhan. Cases have also been reported in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. 

Airports have bolstered the screening of passengers as a result, including at airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. 

The warning from Chinese leaders to be transparent in the number of cases is part of the government’s “all-out efforts” to control the outbreak.

Coronavirus comes from the same family as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people in the early 2000s, mostly in Asia. 

During that time, China initially concealed the breadth of the problem from the public and under-reported the number of those who were infected, a move experts say cost lives. 

In a statement published Tuesday, the China’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission said “anyone who puts the face of politicians before the interests of the people will be the sinner of a millenium to the party and the people.”

Published on Jan 21, 2020