(USA Features) In another sign the Chinese government is hiding the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, Communist leaders have ordered a new crackdown on studies regarding its origin.
An internal directive posted to the websites of several Chinese universities and research centers orders all academic studies on the virus to be “strictly managed” and reviewed by government officials before they can be published.
And separately, according to the American Enterprise Institute, a new estimate claims that some 3 million people in China were actually infected by the coronavirus and that more than 136,000 people died from it, far more than Communist officials have reported.
The Washington Times noted that the new restrictions have followed a recent disclosure of extensive Chinese research focusing on bat coronaviruses at research centers close to a wild animal ‘wet market’ in Wuhan city, the epicenter for the COVID-19 epidemic.
The virus behind the pandemic has been identified as having originated in bats and passed to humans directly or via an animal host.
The Chinese government has called on its scientists to study the origin of the outbreak but Beijing has so far not disclosed whether any such studies are actually underway.
Government officials have, in recent days, called for greater international cooperation in responding to the pandemic.
That said, public health experts say they believe China covered up early details of the outbreak, which some believe pre-dated December — when officials in Beijing say it began.
The Chinese have also refused offers of assistance in determining the origin from the U.S. and Western governments.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said Saturday that China was responsible for spreading false information early in the outbreak.
“We did not get correct information, and the incorrect information was propagated right from the beginning,” he told Fox News.