Health

Spotlight shines on coronavirus lies spread by China, Russia and Iran

Caravanserai and AFP

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Residents line up to pick up pork which was delivered to their quarantined compound in Wuhan, in China’s central Hubei Province on March 18, 2020. Undeniable scientific and anecdotal evidence proves the COVID-19 coronavirus originated from Wuhan, despite official Chinese attempts to change the narrative. [STR / AFP]

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage around the world, more international attention is focusing on the active disinformation campaigns being waged by the governments of China, Russia and Iran.

All three of these governments are actively promoting alternative narratives as to the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak.

It is well documented and supported by previous Chinese government statements that the novel coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China.

The first cases of infections and deaths were in Wuhan, and before Chinese authorities were able to control the outbreak, the deadly virus spread across the world, upending daily life, sickening tens of thousands and killing over 10,000 to date.

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Citizens of Central Asian countries, who are stuck in Moscow after flights were stopped over the coronavirus pandemic, wait for flights to return home at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport on March 24, 2020. [Alexander Nemenov/AFP]

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An Iranian health worker at a scanning station in Tehran in early March, taking temperatures of commuters. [ISNA]

Despite the overwhelming scientific and anecdotal evidence, the regimes of China, Russia and Iran are spreading disinformation about the origin of COVID-19, each for its own malign reasons.

China deflects blame

Beijing is actively attempting to deflect criticism of its role in the coronavirus pandemic by promoting conspiracy theories.

The spread of these malign conspiracy theories is not coming from Chinese citizens but from the highest echelons of the Chinese government.

After officials realised that the virus that originated in China was wreaking untold havoc around the world, the Chinese disinformation machine began working.

At the end of February, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao first began sowing doubt, saying, "Though the COVID-19 was first discovered in China, it does not mean that it originated from China."

On March 12, Zhao tweeted, "It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation."

Most recently, on March 22, Zhao changed his story again, suggesting on Twitter that the virus may have originated in the United States last September, saying US authorities should find out more information on "patient zero".

International concern is growing about the accuracy of the information coming from Chinese officials, who announced March 18 that China had no new local infection cases. Many observers doubt that China has had no new infections, considering the scope of COVID-19's spread in the country.

Beijing -- along with Moscow -- on March 23 blocked a United Nations Security Council proposed declaration on the outbreak.

The draft proposal highlights "growing concern about the unprecedented extent of the COVID-19 outbreak in the world, which may constitute a threat to international peace and security".

It calls for "full transparency" over the outbreak -- wording seen by some to allude to criticism of government secrecy in China.

Russia putting lives at risk

The Kremlin meanwhile is promoting disinformation about COVID-19 in order to worsen the crisis in the West by undermining people's trust in healthcare systems.

The European Union's Stratcom East task force, which tackles disinformation emanating from Russia, said earlier in March that it had identified almost 80 cases of disinformation about coronavirus since January 22.

The strategy is to pump out dozens of different, sometimes contradictory, narratives to sow confusion and fear.

Examples include the notion that coronavirus is a biological weapon deployed by China, the United States or the United Kingdom, that it originally broke out in the United States rather than in China, or that the virus is an instrument to impose totalitarian rule.

Pro-Kremlin sources are not authoring the theories themselves, say researchers working with the task force, but instead are picking up and amplifying conspiracy theories originating elsewhere, such as China and Iran.

There is also speculation that Russian President Vladimir Putin is using the coronavirus crisis, and the disinformation campaigns surrounding it, to push through constitutional changes that would extend his rule.

Prioritising ideology over the Iranian people

Tehran, for its part, is spreading conspiracy theories, most notably that the United States created the virus, in an attempt to deflect blame from how the Iranian regime has bungled its handling of the outbreak.

The US government on February 29 offered to help virus-stricken Iran.

But rather than accept the aid and help the Iranian people, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on March 22 rejected the offer, and spread another conspiracy theory that the offer of help was a cover for an effort to worsen the virus crisis in Iran.

"Khamenei rejected this offer because he works tirelessly to concoct conspiracy theories and prioritises ideology over the Iranian people," US Secretary of State Pompeo said March 23.

"The regime continues to lie to the Iranian people and the world about the number of cases and deaths, which are unfortunately far higher than the regime admits," he said.

International concern has been growing over the Iranian regime's lack of transparency in delivering accurate information to the public regarding numbers of COVID-19 patients and deaths.

Tehran on March 24 announced 122 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, raising the official death toll to 1,934 and total infections to 24,811.

Instead of taking responsibility and accepting help, Khamenei appears to be placing the country's hopes on faith.

He advised Iranians that "everyone should follow the instructions" of the authorities to fight the epidemic "so that Almighty God will put an end to this calamity for the Iranian people, for all Muslim nations and for all mankind".

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17 Comment(s)
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United Statesʼ mistake is, as per Trump critics, US leadership took wrong path while dealing with coronavirus threat. Trump's administration did not take threat of the virus seriously. While repeating “America is first” slogan it was busy pointing out that their political system is better than everyone else. It did not stand at head of fighting against international crisis. Now its international leadership status is under question.

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Virus spread in China, but it was not aritifcially made, this place is strange and it does not correspond with official information This network adds personal feelings and hatred while writing articles

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You are all morons. You write articles for the intellectually disabled.

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What a cheaply selling edition! Who reads and trusts all these slushy articles I wonder???? Sick and tired of the vile Western propaganda!!! When the dog's teeth were pulled out, it is not able to bite, it just barks!

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What kind of crooked publication is this? Who reads and believes all these slimy articles???? Scumbag Yanks!!! When you pull the teeth out of a dog it can't bite, it just barks!

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Any kind of nastiness can be expected from Russia, because the country is just like that.

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What's that bullshit

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Many people here in Kazakhstan began to develop a mysterious severe cold as early as last November, and in other countries, too (you can read comment threads on that under many videos about the coronavirus). It's just that we are not used to going to see a doctor if we have cold symptoms. That's why the Ministry of Healthcare didn't register the cases of illnesses and deaths. But in China, people ask for medical help as soon as they develop cold symptoms. Therefore, when there was a stream of patients coming in, China was the first to give a signal about that. Had people in Kazakhstan and other countries gone to hospitals with early symptoms starting in November 2019, the number of confirmed coronavirus patients clearly would have been higher. By the way, there are plenty of American biological labs here in Kazakhstan and elsewhere in post-Soviet countries. So, draw your conclusions, gentlemen, who brought this illness into the world and when it happened, but take into account that the infection started to manifest itself in many countries simultaneously, not only in China.

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Yes! I got sick in January and coughed violently; it was a strange flu. Indeed, it first appeared in November.

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Yet another Kremlin lie. More sanctions need to be imposed on Russia for that

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Russia makes a mess everywhere

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These authors are soft in the head

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What nonsense! Judging by the numerous comments on social media, everybody clearly understands that the virus first appeared in China with some help from the scientists at the virology lab at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Wuhan. It looks like the Yanks take us for fools, since they underestimate our people.

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It was not created in Chinese laboratory
It was made naturally

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It is most likely a modified virus made by Russia and China. But it has broken loose

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Most likely you are an idiot! ))

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And you are a knucklehead for sure ))

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