What Did Early Chinese Language Reporting Of Covid-19 Describe It As?

Today you can follow live global coverage of Covid-19 using our Covid-19 Media Dashboard, but when Covid-19 first emerged as a media story in China in December 2019, what did some of this early coverage look like and how was it described?

One early story, titled "Wuhan Central Hospital claims that SARS rumors spread on the Internet are confirmed patients" (all translations performed by machine) and published 10:29AM China Standard Time December 31, 2019 contained statements like:

  • "A patient with unexplained pneumonia in Wuhan, suspected of SARS"
  • "the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating"
  • "alert issued by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission showed that patients with unexplained pneumonia appeared one after another in the South China Seafood Market in Wuhan"
  • "all units are requested to immediately check the statistics of unexplained pneumonia patients with similar characteristics that have been received in the past week, and submit the statistical form (seal and scan) to the city health and health care system before 4 pm today. The mailbox of the Medical Administration Office of the Committee. Another screenshot of the online chat showed that “a case of coronavirus infectious pneumonia has been confirmed in the Houhu District of Wuhan Second Hospital… SARS has been basically confirmed”"

Within hours another article titled "There are 27 cases of viral pneumonia in Wuhan, and no specific virus type has been isolated" contained details like:

  • "On the evening of December 30, 2019, the Wuhan Health and Health Commission issued an emergency notice with the subject of "Reporting the status of treatment for pneumonia of unknown cause". It reads that according to an emergency notice from the superior, patients with pneumonia of unknown cause have appeared one after another in the South China Seafood Market in Wuhan."
  • "At about 1 pm on December 31, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission issued a notification: 27 cases have been found, 7 of which are in serious condition. "After multi-party analysis, the above cases are viral pneumonia, and no obvious human-to-human transmission has been found, and no medical staff infection has been found.""
  • "The director of the respiratory department of a third-class hospital in Beijing told the Caijing reporter that from the current inspection situation, it does not seem to be caused by the SARS virus. At present, the detection of the pathogen and the investigation of the cause of infection are underway, and no specific virus type has been isolated."
  • "Pneumonia patients of unknown cause have appeared one after another in the South China Seafood Market in Wuhan."
  • "An emergency notice issued by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission on “Reporting of the Treatment of Unexplained Pneumonia”, which reads “According to the emergency notice from superiors, patients with unexplained pneumonia have appeared in the South China Seafood Market in Wuhan” on December 30, 2019 day."
  • "On the morning of December 31, 2019, an expert team dispatched by the National Health Commission arrived in Wuhan for testing and verification. At 1 p.m. that day, a staff member of the Wuhan Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention told the Caijing reporter that the city’s disease control has finished testing the specimens, and the Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention is organizing experts to review the case specimens. "Last Friday (December 27) ) Related cases have already been reported by hospitals"."
  • "At present, the suspected case has been isolated and transferred to hospital. The South China Seafood Market is less than a five-minute walk from Wuhan Youfu Hospital. The staff told the reporter of Caijing that some suspected patients in the seafood market had gone to Wuhan Central Hospital (Houhu District) for treatment, and then transferred to Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital. The latter was originally the Wuhan Infectious Disease Hospital."

According to this coverage, patients were being reported as early as December 27th at that point and the cases had begun sharply accelerating by December 31.

Within days SINA even launched a dedicated topic devoted to the outbreak (see snapshots over time of it).

Interestingly, just weeks prior, on December 9, 2019, the Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences announced an outbreak of brucellosis spanning at least 100 instructors and students due allegedly to classroom instruction being performed on stray cats without all students wearing protective equipment. The article references a previous 2011 incident at Northeast Agricultural University in which "28 students and teachers were diagnosed with Brucella. This incident originated from a live sheep animal experiment conducted by Northeast Agricultural University at the end of 2010" in which "they were not wearing gloves, and there were no specific requirements for disinfection. nothing."

Another article on December 31 titled "Wuhan announces outbreak of pneumonia: 27 cases were found, no obvious human-to-human transmission was found" mentioned:

  • "On the evening of the 30th, there was a lot of news from Wuhan's local Weibo and WeChat groups, saying that the 7 cases of pneumonia of unknown cause that appeared recently came from the South China Seafood Wholesale Market."
  • "There are also rumors that the patients were in Wuhan Central Hospital (Wuhan Second Hospital) Houhu Branch (hereinafter referred to as the Second Hospital), Huazhong University of Science and Technology Tongji Medical College Affiliated Hospital (hereinafter referred to as Union Hospital) and Huazhong University of Science and Technology Tongji Medicine Tongji Hospital (hereinafter referred to as Tongji Hospital) affiliated to the hospital visited the hospital. The first patient was the owner of a market fruit wholesale stall. Another patient in the emergency area of ​​the Second Hospital said on Weibo that they had witnessed each cold patient being taken by a nurse and asked if they had been to the South China Seafood Wholesale Market."

Another article includes screen captures of WeChat chats with various documents and messages.