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The lawyers behind one of the several class-action lawsuits against China claim to present a damning narrative with new information on the alleged cover-up of the coronavirus crisis in its early stages by the Chinese government in an amended complaint filed Monday.
The allegations in the suit extensively detail Chinese research into bat coronaviruses at a lab in Wuhan, China, claiming that's where the disease first appeared, and China's alleged knowledge about, and ensuing cover-up of, the outbreak.
Fox News has reported that U.S. intelligence agencies are investigating whether the coronavirus may have escaped from a research lab in Wuhan. Sources told Fox News that the genome mapping of the virus shows it was not genetically altered or engineered to be made as a bioweapon, but that they believe the research into the virus was part of an effort to show that China's ability to identify and combat viruses is equal or greater than that of the U.S.
Among the new allegations in the amended complaint are that China's "Surveillance Reporting System" (SRS), which is designed to detect outbreaks of diseases like the coronavirus, was kneecapped by orders to doctors to not report information about the coronavirus.
"The SRS failed here, because the Wuhan doctors and hospitals were forbidden from entering the information, and the doctor-controlled Chinese CDC was overridden by the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] controlled WHC [Wuhan Health Commission]," the suit reads.
"On December 30, 2019, WHC released a notice to medical institutions that patients visiting the Wuhan Seafood Market had contracted a pneumonia-like illness," it continues. "The notice warned medical professionals: 'Any organizations or individuals are not allowed to release treatment information to the public without authorization.'"
The Berman Law Group, which is running this particular class-action suit against China, said in a statement that it believes the new information bolsters its case, which faces significant obstacles like the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), a law that generally prevents American citizens from suing other countries except in a handful of exceptions.
"[T]he Communist Government of China clearly hid the apparent leaking at the lab, failed to properly contain the virus, withheld disclosure of the ease of human-to-human transmission, and allowed the virus to needlessly devastate the world," the statement says. "CCP also silenced all Chinese doctors from speaking the truth and made them acquiesce to their terms. Their direct actions will allow us to overcome old obstacles and properly hold them accountable in the U.S. Courts."
Some of the new information in the firm's suit, particularly about the failure of the SRS, comes from a report, shared with Fox News, compiled by Dr. Wang Weiluo, a Chinese scientist in Germany with a history of being critical of the Chinese government. The report is a compilation of other reports that have previously been made public, but forms a timeline that purports to build proof of the Chinese government's malfeasance.
The suit also cites other information, including retribution against doctors who raised the alarm about the coronavirus, details Chinese officials' interaction with outside organizations -- including its denial to the WHO that human transmission of the virus is possible -- and that the Chinese government was already conducting tests "on patients with COVID-19 symptoms between Dec. 18 and 29, 2019, with symptoms attributed to '[a] novel bat-borne [coronavirus].'"
Additionally, the amended complaint filed Monday adds dozens of new plaintiffs to the suit.
This suit is just one of at least seven in American courts against China over the coronavirus, and one of five seeking an undetermined amount of monetary damages. One is seeking $20 trillion and another seeks $8 trillion.
Some American legal observers, including Yale Law Professor Stephen L. Carter, have said it is unlikely any of the suits will be able to advance because of the FSIA. But the Berman lawyers say their case should fall under the exceptions to that act.
"The suit also incorporates new jurisdictional statements from research on the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA), as well as a reference to the 9/11 FSIA exception law passed in 2016," the firm's statement on the amended complaint says.
Fox News' Adam Shaw contributed to this report.