Live Coronavirus updates: China says 1,700 medical workers have been infected

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The Chinese government did not issue a public alert in the early days of the outbreak, although scientists were aware of human-to-human transmission, wrote a doctor from Wuhan in an article published by Lancet this week.

Dr. Zhang Hong of Zhongnan Hospital wrote that local authorities have allowed more than 5 million people to leave Wuhan to travel on the Lunar New Year holiday, despite warnings from Chinese scientists.

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"Early detection and initial reports have been delayed," wrote Dr. Zhang.

The paper It was a rare case of a medical professional who criticizes the government, especially at a time when doctors and nurses are under pressure not to speak. Dr. Zhang he also wrote that doctors did not understand the severity and contagiousness of the new coronavirus from the start and that doctors were unable to fully protect themselves as a result.

He wrote that supplies of protective equipment in hospitals are severely insufficient and have been made worse by the implementation of traffic controls after the government isolated cities across China. He called on the government to "pay attention to frontline doctors and provide adequate protective equipment to reduce the risk of infection".

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Overburdened hospitals were forced to remove patients when the virus spread, "inevitably increasing morbidity and mortality," he added.

Wuhan officials admitted that public announcements about the virus were delayed. In late January, when the outbreak was spreading across Wuhan, the city's mayor, Zhou Xianwang, acknowledged that the disclosures had not been timely, but said his hands were tied because he could only publish them "according to the law".

The reports and research were contributed by Sui-Lee Wee, Choe Sang-Hun, Richard C. Paddock, Elaine Yu, Motoko Rich, Lin Qiqing, Karen Zraick, Amber Wang, Zoe Mou, Albee Zhang, Yiwei Wang and Claire Fu.

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