Coronavirus Censorship in Hong Kong!
Updated: Mar 23, 2020
The world is suffering a pandemic. Amidst this we have seen that an information war is being shamefully waged by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The CCP withholds the truth, mixes up the facts, deliberately spreads misinformation, or just releases half-truths in order to manipulate the narrative of events and win some gain. At times the CCP coercion means people stay silent when they ought to speak up, or in cases like this one, the medium for sharing information is shut down. The CCP has been likened figuratively to a virus that itself creates virus, and we see in this writing that it is literally a reality. Last week a number of American journalists were barred from working in the SAR, but thankfully everyone of us can be citizen-journalists.
This article was published briefly (mid-March, 2020) on Ming Pao, which is one of the more reputable Chinese online newspapers in Hong Kong. It is the well-informed work of two medical experts, David Lung and Yuen Kwok-yung, who begin by saying the lessons of SARS in 2003 were not learnt by Chinese authorities! Using scientific rationale they help us understand the origins of Covid-19.
We have to thank a subscriber on Reddit who realised that it was so worthy of archiving, and spreading far and wide. Please share our blog translation with your friends!
David Lung - Honorary Assistant Professor of Microbiology in the Faculty of Medicine in HKU, and Yuen Kwok-yung - Professor of Epidemiology in the Faculty of Medicine in HKU
We didn't learn from the lesson 17 year ago for this pandemic from Wuhan
A pandemic originated from Wuhan at the end of 2019 and it became widespread in Hubei and the whole of China in early 2020, which affected more than 80,000 people leaving 3,000 dead. It subdued after locking everyone at their homes for more than a month, but the pandemic had already escaped. By March, it had already spread around the world, and WHO was slow to announce it as global. Most countries in the world were under-prepared and under-stocked for it and as a result had their respective outbreaks early. Only Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and The Republic of China has avoided it, but they are still under serious pressure from individual yet endless imported cases.
此疫由病毒所致，因其形如冠，故名曰冠狀病毒。世衛由2015年開始避免用人名、地名、動物、食物、文化、職業等為疾病命名。故是次以「年份」為此病冠名以資識別，稱此病為冠狀病毒感染-19（COVID-19）。國際病毒分類委員會（International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, ICTV）以病毒基因排序為命名標準，每段基因逐一細心分析，其他因素不作考慮。蓋因此冠狀病毒基因排序「未夠新」，屬沙士冠狀病毒的姐妹，故稱之為沙士冠狀病毒2.0（SARS-CoV-2）。民間及國際媒體則稱之為武漢冠狀病毒或武漢肺炎，直接簡單，亦無不可。
This pandemic was caused by a virus. As it looked like a crown, its called Coronavirus. The WHO had avoided naming diseases after persons, places, animals, food, culture, or profession, so they used the year of this pandemic, and in this case, Coronavirus Disease 19, or COVID-19. The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, or ICTV names virus by sequencing its genes, and they won't consider other factors. As this novel coronavirus was not that "novel" and is probably related to the SARS Coronavirus, so its named SARS Coronavirus 2.0, or SARS-CoV-2. There is of course no problem for the public and international media to call the virus "Wuhan Coronavirus" or the disease "Wuhan Pneumonia" as it is a simple and direct name to use.
There is an ongoing controversy for the naming of this pandemic. While the name of the disease and the virus are the responsibility of the WHO and ICTV respectively, the common name of the disease is decided by common usage, and will mainly be judged by its clarity and accuracy. Of course, when in an academic situation, we need to refer to the disease as COVID-19 and the virus as SARS-CoV-2. But for daily communication by the public and the media, "Wuhan Coronavirus" and "Wuhan Pneumonia" are names that are easy to use and understand.
The Pandemic was from Wuhan
約75%之新發傳染病源於野生動物，而數隻能感染哺乳類動物的冠狀病毒，其元祖病毒（ancestral virus）則源於蝙蝠或雀鳥。兩者皆能從數千公里外飛抵發現病毒之處，故病毒之命名系統亦會以發現處名之記之。欲查病毒之源，準確客觀之法乃從動物宿主身上分離出病毒。可惜華南海鮮批發市場早被清場，研究人員抵達蒐證取樣本之時，場內之活野味早已不知所終，病毒之天然宿主（natural host）及中間宿主（intermediate host）身分成疑。據當地人員述，華南海鮮批發市場內之野生動物從中國各地、東南亞各國及非洲（走私出口）運抵此處集散，武漢冠狀病毒之元祖病毒源於何地則無從稽考。
About 75% of new infectious diseases originate from wild animals. Coronavirus, which can infect mammals, originates from Bats and Birds, which can travel for thousands of kilometers to its place of discovery, so the place of first discovery will be recorded instead of its true place of origin. While it could be possible to search the actual primary host for the virus by separating it from infected hosts, all live animals were nowhere to be found once the clearing of the Seafood Market in Wuhan had taken place. So there is no way to find the natural and intermediate hosts of the virus. As reported, the seafood market has seen wild animals from all over China, Southeast Asia and smuggled animals from Africa to be resold, so there will be no clue on where the Wuhan Coronavirus had originated from.
以基因排序之法尋源，查得一隻蝙蝠冠狀病毒株（RaTG13）與武漢冠狀病毒極為相近，其排序高達96%近似，故相信此病毒株為武漢冠狀病毒之始祖。此病毒株於雲南的中華菊頭蝠（Rhinolophus sinicus）身上分離得之，故相信蝙蝠乃武漢冠狀病毒之天然宿主。流行病學研究明確顯示華南海鮮批發市場為初期擴散點（amplification epicenter），病毒很大機會在場內由天然宿主交叉感染中間宿主，再於中間宿主體內出現適應人體之突變，繼而出現人傳人之感染。
From Gene sequencing, though, we have found that one strain of Bat coronavirus (RaTG13) is 96% similar to the Wuhan Coronavirus in terms of gene sequence, so it is probably the ancestor of the Wuhan Coronavirus. RaTG13 was found on Rhinolophus sinicus which is a species of bat in Yunnan, China, so there is good reason to believe that bats were the natural hosts of the Wuhan Coronavirus. Epidemiological studies indicate clearly that the seafood market in Wuhan was the amplification epicenter, so its very likely that the virus first infected an intermediate host, and it mutated to a form that could infect humans, before its spread from Human to Human.
中間宿主身分未明，但基因排序顯示武漢冠狀病毒S蛋白受體（Spike Receptor-binding domain）與穿山甲冠狀病毒株近似度高達90%。雖然未能確定穿山甲為中間宿主，但此穿山甲冠狀病毒株極可能捐出S蛋白受體基因（甚至全段S蛋白基因）給蝙蝠冠狀病毒株，透過基因洗牌重組成為新的冠狀病毒。
While there is no concrete identity for the intermediate hosts, Gene sequencing shows that the Spike Receptor-binding domain of the Wuhan Coronavirus is almost 90% similar to Pangolin Coronavirus. While we cannot say for sure that Pangolins are intermediate hosts, it is extremely likely that the Pangolin Coronavirus had lent its Spike Receptor-Binding domain, or even the whole Spike protein to Bat Coronavirus, and assembled as a novel coronavirus by gene shuffling.
Wild Game Markets are the source of many viruses
The SARS epidemic in 2003 was from Heyuan, China and affected Guangdong before being spread to Hong Kong. The SARS Coronavirus was found on Masked Palm Civets, and as a result China had banned trading in wild animals, but after 17 years the ban has still been poorly enforced and more wild animal markets than ever have been allowed to set up shop. Chinese had already forgotten the lesson learnt from SARS and they not only let wild animal markets in the center of a city, but also allowed the the appalling sight of their cooking and consumption on site. In a live wild animal market, the excrement of these animals are full of germs and virus. The hygiene is poor, the place is crowded, and different species of animals are in close contact. These failings have contributed to gene shuffling and mutation. So there is a strong need to ban the wild animal markets.
The management of wet markets is the key to fighting off the pandemic. Both Chinese and Hong Kong Government must quickly improve the environment of wet markets, including ventilation and pest controls. Before live poultry markets can be totally phased out, the excrement of live animals must be disposed of properly in order to reduce gene shuffling.
There are reports that the virus was from the USA. However, those claims lack empirical evidence and is fake news; spreading such claims only shows a lack of scientific understanding. The Chinese Government committed an error by being half-hearted about closing down wild animal markets. They should face the truth and rectify their error immediately. Ultimately, Wuhan Pneumonia was a product of the low-class culture of China. Chinese continue to kill and eat wild animals, and that they fail to treat them humanely. They have no respect for their kill as animals, and continue their consumption to satisfy their wants. The ultimate source of the virus is the bad parts of Chinese Culture. If they continue with the current attitude, we will sooner or later see SARS 3.0.
David Lung - Honorary Assistant Professor of Microbiology in the Faculty of Medicine in HKU
Yuen Kwok-yung - Professor of Epidemiology in the Faculty of Medicine in HKU
Footnote: For another translation of important text in Chinese, please read this blog with two letters from China Digital News, 2 March 2020.