A US state has filed a lawsuit against China alleging that Beijing’s actions to suppress information, arrest whistleblowers and denying the contagious nature of coronavirus led to “irreparable damage” to countries globally while causing human suffering and severe economic disruption.
Filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, the first of its kind lawsuit was filed by Missouri attorney-general Eric Schmitt against the Chinese government, the ruling Chinese Communist Party, and other Chinese officials and institutions.
This is the second in line in addition to the one filed in a Texas District Court in the US on April 2 seeking compensatory damages of over $20 trillion US Dollars against China for the “creation and release, accidental or otherwise” of the Novel Coronavirus(COVID-19)as a biological weapon in violation of China’s international obligations. The plaintiffs argue that in effect, the new Coronavirus is a terrorist-related weapon of mass destruction of population centres.
This lawsuit alleges that during the critical weeks of the initial outbreak, the Chinese authorities deceived the public, suppressed crucial information, arrested whistleblowers, denied human-to-human transmission in the face of mounting evidence, destroyed critical medical research, permitted millions of people to be exposed to the virus, and even hoarded personal protective equipment (PPE, causing a global pandemic that was unnecessary and preventable.
“Covid-19 has done irreparable damage to countries across the globe, causing sickness, death, economic disruption, and human suffering. In Missouri, the impact of the virus is very real – thousands have been infected and many have died, families have been separated from dying loved ones, small businesses are shuttering their doors, and those living paycheck to paycheck are struggling to put food on their table,” said Schmitt.
“The Chinese government lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of Covid-19, silenced whistleblowers, and did little to stop the spread of the disease. They must be held accountable for their actions,” he alleged.
According to the lawsuit, by late December, the Chinese health officials had serious evidence of human-to-human transmission. Despite this evidence, the Chinese health officials did not report the outbreak to the World Health Organisation until December 31. When the Chinese authorities did inform the WHO of the outbreak, they denied the potential for human-to-human transmission, it said.
The lawsuit also alleges that, despite having knowledge of the disease, the Chinese officials did little to contain the spread.
According to data gathered by the New York Times, nearly 175,000 individuals left Wuhan on January 1 alone to travel for the Lunar New Year. The Chinese government also continued with New Year celebrations, despite the risk for potential further infections.
The lawsuit seeks relief on one count of public nuisance, one count of abnormally dangerous activities, and two counts of breach of duty. Remedies could include civil penalties and restitution, abatement of the public nuisance, cessation of abnormally dangerous activities, punitive damages and more.
Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, welcomed the lawsuit. (Source: Barandbench)