China has been ordered to downplay a mysterious outbreak of pneumonia as reports of disease spread across the country.
Medics were instructed not to identify the cause of the illness and to avoid using the phrase “Covid-19.”
The sickness that has generated “unusual symptoms” has led the government to reintroduce masks and social isolation.
As fears of a new epidemic mount, hospitals have become overcrowded, particularly in the country’s north.
An insider from China’s top leadership has now alleged that the country’s top chiefs have been given a “secret directive”.
The source claims the order came straight from Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Authorities have reportedly insisted that the outbreak must be referred to as either mycoplasma pneumonia infection or influenza.
“Major foreign media outlets stationed in Beijing also received the order which makes it clear that no interviews are allowed to report on the so-called ‘mycoplasma pneumonia infection’ or ‘influenza’,” the source told The Epoch Times.
“Domestic media are also prohibited from making any comprehensive reports on this outbreak that is just like pretending this never happened.”
The insider added that several hospitals have set up makeshift clinics to deal with the surging number of patients.
“The affiliated hospital of Hebei University’s (makeshift clinic) is already put into use, primarily for children receiving IV drip treatments,” she said.
China insists that the outbreak is caused by the flu and the usual winter bugs rather than a new virus.
Beijing has informed the World Health Organisation (WHO) that the increased number of cases is due to “multiple known pathogens” resurfacing.