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We first started hearing mentions of the word coronavirus - an illness that was 'mutating and adapting' - at the back end of 2019 but it became a little more established at the beginning of 2020.
People were being observed on flights to the UK from China for signs of the 'fast-spreading' disease before Wuhan - described as 'ground zero' of the outbreak - was placed under quarantine as the virus was linked to the deaths of at least 17 people.
Fast forward nearly a year to the day that Wuhan was put on lockdown and there have been an estimated two million deaths across the world, with top doctors now claiming that the pandemic could have been avoided had China told the world earlier.
The claims were made in the coronavirus documentary, Outbreak: The Virus That Shook the World, which aired on ITV last night (19 January).
Infectious diseases specialist Dr Yi-Chun Lo, the Deputy Director-General of Centres for Disease Control in Taiwan, said: "The very early outbreak management was just a mess, a failure.
"I think the pandemic could have been avoided at the beginning if China was transparent about the outbreak and was quick to provide necessary information to the world."
According to the people featuring on the programme, China was aware of the virus a long time before it was revealed to the world.
The documentary features undercover footage of medical professionals who witnessed some of the first cases of the virus, which was filmed secretly by a citizen journalist.
In the footage, they say they were in no doubt about just how dangerous the virus was, but were forced to remain quiet about their concerns.
Speaking after Wuhan was released from lockdown, the experts also detail a cover-up by the Chinese government authorities from the start of the outbreak.
One said: "We knew this virus transmitted from human to human. But when we attended a hospital meeting, we were told not to speak out. The provincial leaders told the hospitals not to tell the truth."
They argued that authorities knew new year celebrations in January would 'accelerate the speed of the virus', adding: "People suggested at city level that it shouldn't go ahead, but it did because such an event would present a harmonious and prosperous society."
According to ITV, the Chinese government has declined to comment, but previously said it had provided timely information once facts were known.
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