Facts&Lies Regarding COVID-19 Response
2020/05/07

The Lie: China allowing regular flights out of Wuhan to the rest of the world after they had been cut off inside China.

On 16 April, a senior cabinet minister told Sky News that reports relating to Chinese flights out of Wuhan during the coronavirus outbreak demonstrate the need for “a level of transparency” on the part of the Chinese Communist party.

On 20 April, a former Foreign Minister alleged in an Australian Financial Review op-ed, "the Chinese government banned travel in and out of Wuhan to other parts of China but kept international links open," “they tried to stop the spread of the virus to other parts of China but they didn’t care that it could spread to other parts of the world.”

The above mentioned assertions originated from a column in the Sunday Times of London written by Niall Ferguson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. Ferguson claimed that "As far as I can tell from the available records, however, regular direct flights from Wuhan continued to run to London, Paris, Rome, New York and San Francisco throughout January and in some cases into February."

Facts:

I. On January 23rd, in an unprecedented effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, Wuhan epidemic prevention and control headquarters issued a notice to shut down the city’s outbound channels at airports and railway stations starting from 10 a.m on that same day. According to the notice, all flights previously scheduled to depart were canceled.

II. A Professor named Daniel Bell from Shandong University did a research about Ferguson’s allegation.

Professor Bell checked all the flights listed on the spreadsheet Ferguson sent to him after his email queries. It turns out that none of the flights that supposedly left from Wuhan actually left from Wuhan. The flights listed as red on Ferguson's spreadsheet were canceled.

For Bell’s findings please read his article from the following news link:

https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-04-28/Did-China-deliberately-export-COVID-19-to-the-rest-of-the-world--Q2oGomPRss/index.html

In his response to Bell, Ferguson later conceded that he was wrong to allege that regular flights left from Wuhan to the rest of the world after January 23. And here is the key passage from his response: "Data from sensors tracking actual flight paths would seem to indicate that no flights left from Wuhan itself to other countries in the world after January 23."

Ferguson's full response is here: http://www.niallferguson.com/blog#.Xp76zROZbVE.link

There is no idea how those politicians who helped promote the lies would react to the facts. With due respect, they are advised not to simply follow others’ scripts without even doing their homework of fact checking. Otherwise it only discredits themselves.

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E-mail: chinaemb_au@mfa.gov.cn
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