14:50 GMT05 July 2020
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    Chinese officials have allegedly imposed limits on academic publications regarding COVID-19 tracing, according to a notice that was posted on April 9 on the website of Fudan University’s School of Information Science and Technology.

    According to the notice, which was taken down but is still available in an archived form, academic papers regarding the coronavirus and virus tracing will now require strict vetting. The notice also stated that academic papers related to COVID-19 must first be approved by the university's academic committee before they can be published. 

    “Other papers related to the new coronary pneumonia epidemic should be reviewed by the academic committee of the college, and after the academic value and timing of the papers are in place, put forward opinions on whether to publish them at home and abroad,” a Google translation of the notice states.

    “The publication of papers must adhere to the bottom line of biosecurity, and matters related to the management of human genetic resources must be examined and approved in strict accordance with regulations. The release of the results of the vaccine should be in line with the schedule and cannot be exaggerated; the drug efficacy evaluation and clinical experience should be summed up in time to form a high-quality paper.”

    According to a report by the Guardian, a similar notice posted on April 5 by the Chinese University of Geosciences in Wuhan, academic papers related to the coronavirus must also be approved by the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

    Chinese authorities have been facing increased scrutiny over the coronavirus, especially after Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian in March claimed that the US Army might have brought the disease to China’s Wuhan, the city where the virus was first detected in the country, without providing any evidence for his claim.

    "When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!" Zhao tweeted in March.

    The first COVID-19 case can be traced back to November 17, according to Chinese government data obtained by the South China Morning Post. However, the full-fledged outbreak in Wuhan is believed to have started some time between December 12 and December 29. 

    Two unnamed US government sources also alleged last Wednesday that US intelligence officials were raising alarms about a virus spreading in Wuhan back in November 2019, referring to it in a report as a potentially “cataclysmic event” that could endanger US military forces in Asia, ABC News reported. The Pentagon later claimed to the outlet that the alleged November report did not exist.

    The latest data by Worldometer reveals that there are almost 2 million cases of the coronavirus worldwide, and more than 118,000 people have died as a result. Around 440,000 people globally have recovered from the deadly disease.

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