A Failed Deception The Early Days of the Coronavirus Outbreak in Wuhan

In December, a mysterious new respiratory illness began spreading in Wuhan. But it took fully 21 days before the Chinese authorities mobilized to fight the disease. Could the coronavirus pandemic have been prevented?
A medical worker inside an isolation ward at a Wuhan hospital

A medical worker inside an isolation ward at a Wuhan hospital

Foto: STR / AFP
DER SPIEGEL 20/2020
Foto: 

cgs

A traditional market in Wuhan: The virus only jumped to a human on one single occasion.

A traditional market in Wuhan: The virus only jumped to a human on one single occasion.

Foto: South China Morning Post / action press
Dr. Ai Fen: "I was so scared, I broke out in a cold sweat."

Dr. Ai Fen: "I was so scared, I broke out in a cold sweat."

Patients waiting to be transfered to another hospital in Wuhan: The city also provided the blueprint for combating the pandemic.

Patients waiting to be transfered to another hospital in Wuhan: The city also provided the blueprint for combating the pandemic.

Foto: STR / AFP
The city of Wuhan on Feb. 3: The largest quarantine ever imposed in the history of humankind.

The city of Wuhan on Feb. 3: The largest quarantine ever imposed in the history of humankind.

Foto: Stringer/ Getty Images
Virologist Gao Fu: Exasperated by the evasive answers he was given.

Virologist Gao Fu: Exasperated by the evasive answers he was given.

Foto: Mark Schiefelbein/ AP
People pay respect at a memorial to Dr. Li Wenliang: "There should be more than one voice in a healthy society."

People pay respect at a memorial to Dr. Li Wenliang: "There should be more than one voice in a healthy society."

Foto: 

Lam Yik Fei / The New York Times/ Reudx/ Laif