London: A Chinese whistleblower has claimed that the first COVID-19 outbreak was intentional and took place in October 2019 at a military tournament in Wuhan -- two months before China notified the world about the deadly virus, media reports said.
Ex-Chinese Communist Party insider Wei Jingsheng said that the World Military Games in October 2019 may have acted as the virus' first superspreader event, where some international athletes reportedly became sick with a mystery illness, Daily Mail reported. While coronavirus cases surged in China, the country reported the outbreak to the World Health Organisation only on December 31.
"I thought the Chinese government would take this opportunity to spread the virus during the Military Games, as many foreigners would show up there," Jingsheng was quoted as saying in Sky News documentary 'What Really Happened in Wuhan'.
The whistleblower claimed he had heard of the Chinese government carrying out an "unusual exercise" during the games.
"(I knew) of the possibility of the Chinese government using some strange weapons, including biological weapons, because I knew they were doing experiments of that sort," he said.
His claims were supported by Miles Yu, the former Principal China Adviser to the US State Department, the report said.
Yu said French, German and American athletes were among those to fall ill at the tournament with COVID-like symptoms, but were never tested for the virus.
"We see some indications in our own dataa that there was COVID circulating in the United States as early as early December, possibly earlier than that," David Asher, ex-US State Department COVID-19 investigator was quoted as saying.
Jingsheng also claimed he took his concerns about the unfolding situation to senior figures within the Trump administration in November 2019 but was ignored, the report said.
He said he made the approach as whispers of a "new SARS virus" began circulating on WeChat and other Chinese social media platforms.
More than a year into the pandemic, the debate whether COVID-19s origins originated naturally or was leaked from a lab continues.
The global coronavirus caseload has topped 230 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 4.71 million, according to Johns Hopkins University latest update on Thursday.