New Delhi: A doctor in China who had diagnosed many of the early coronavirus cases when it first broke out, has now accused the local authorities of covering up the magnitude of the initial outbreak of the deadly disease in Wuhan. The doctor claimed that the authorities had destroyed the evidence even before the investigation started. Also Read - Tamil Nadu Intensifies Lockdown Norms: Essential Shops to Open Only For 4 Hours | Full List of Guidelines Here

Speaking to the BBC, Professor Kwok-Yung Yuen, a microbiologist, physician and surgeon in Hong Kong, who helped in the probe against COVID-19 in Wuhan city – the epicentre of the viral outbreak – claimed that by the time the investigating team reached the city, the physical evidence at the Huanan wildlife market was destroyed and the response to clinical findings was slow. Also Read - Mizoram Extends Ongoing COVID Lockdown, Restrictions To Remain In Force Till May 24

“When we went to the Huanan supermarket, of course, there was nothing to see because the market was clean already. So, you may say that the crime scene is already disturbed because the supermarket was cleared. We cannot identify any host which is giving the virus to humans,” Yuen told the BBC. Also Read - Karnataka Lockdown: This Minister Turns His House Into COVID Care Centre For 50 Patients

“I do suspect that they have been doing some cover-up locally at Wuhan. The local officials who are supposed to immediately relay the information have not allowed this to be done as readily as it should,” he added.

The deadly coronavirus infection that shook up the whole world and clamped it down, originated from the bustling city of Wuhan in China, and the first reports got out in December. The novel disease has infected over 16 million people globally and claimed lives of more than 648,000 people, bringing the world economy to a standstill.

A huge debate broke out as several countries criticised China for not divulging information about the severity of COVID-19 after many discrepancies were revealed in their reports. The US has even accused the Asian giant of sourcing the virus out of a lab in Wuhan city.

Dr Li Wenliang, the first to report, along with several other whistleblowers, was allegedly reprimanded for ‘leaking’ information, trying to warn medics about the virus. Li eventually contracted the disease and died this February.

China is now witnessing the second wave of coronavirus infection, with the highest number of cases in the far northwestern Xinjiang region. Yesterday, China reported 61 new cases of COVID-19, the highest daily figure since April.