New Delhi: As China continues to be blamed for the coronavirus pandemic, the country has now resorted to curb  information regarding the origins of the outbreak and censor research in an attempt to control the narrative. Also Read - Second Wave of COVID-19 Hits China? 99 New Cases Reported From Mainland

According to a Guardian report, China is cracking down on the publication of academic research about the origin of the novel coronavirus, as evident from the the documents published online by two Chinese universities. Also Read - US Lawmakers Urge China to Urgently Shut Down 'Wet Markets' As Coronavirus Crisis Deepens

Online notices published by these two Chinese universities, which have now been deleted, suggest that all studies on the origin of the virus will now receive extra scrutiny and must be approved by central government officials.

The first notice, published by Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, mentioned that ‘publication of research into the origins of Covid-19 would need approval from the science and technology ministry’. The second one, from Fudan University in Shanghai, called for ‘strict and serious’ management of papers investigating the source of the outbreak.

China’s continued censorship

According to the directive issued by the Ministry of Education’s science and technology department, “academic papers about tracing the origin of the virus must be strictly and tightly managed.”

Tightening the grip on the publication of COVID-19 research, all papers need to first go through layers of approval and then need to be sent to the education ministry’s science and technology department, which will then forward the papers to a task-force under the State Council. Once the task force approves them, then only can universities submit them to journals.

Critics reportedly said the move is aimed at controlling the narrative around the outbreak, which started in China’s Wuhan and is wreaking havoc across the world.

“I think it is a coordinated effort from Chinese government to control narrative, and paint it as if the outbreak did not originate in China. And I don’t think they will really tolerate any objective study to investigate the origination of this disease,” a Chinese researcher told CNN.