“For the whole of December when the disease happened, I have learned that the system was not put into use. I was very surprised [that happened] at the time,” she said.

“This [failure] actually exemplifies a lot of the problems that are happening in China today.”

A leaked document from Wuhan Central Hospital – one of the designated facilities for Covid-19 patients – this week indirectly confirmed that the early warning system was not activated during the early period of the outbreak.

The document showed doctors were under instructions not to report any cases until they had been vetted and approved by their supervisors. They were also forbidden from disclosing any information to the public without permission.