False claim: In China the coronavirus only hit Wuhan, Chinese stock market unaffected

Multiple posts on social media make the claim that in China, the coronavirus spread was suspiciously confined to the city of Wuhan, alleging that the virus did not “travel” to the cities of Beijing or Shanghai, for example. Some posts also make the claim that the Chinese stock market was unaffected by the spread of the pandemic, unlike in the U.S. and Europe ( here ).

Some posts go on to include further claims alluding to a possible conspiracy by the Chinese government and Democratic party members in the U.S. to financially cripple America and negatively frame President Donald Trump’s administration.


In early February, when cities like Wuhan were in lockdown, fears about the spreading of the coronavirus wiped $393 billion off China’s stock market, despite government support moves, Reuters reported ( here ). A nearly 8% plunge on the Shanghai composite index was its biggest daily fall in more than four years.

The wipeout came even as the Chinese central bank made its biggest cash injection to the financial system since 2004 and despite apparent regulatory moves to curb selling.

By mid-March, factory production data continued to underscore the impact of the pandemic on the country, as Chinese stocks fell again to six-week lows, ( here ). The claim that the Chinese stock market was unaffected by the spread of the virus is therefore untrue.


As it begins to ease its strict coronavirus curbs, China has urged authorities to pay more attention to asymptomatic cases, as part of efforts to allay public fears that large numbers of infectious people have gone unreported. Residents and medical staff in Wuhan told Reuters that testing problems at some hospitals meant that some infected people were not identified, and thus were not included in official data. ( here )

Despite criticisms related to the Chinese government’s lack of transparency, official coronavirus data released by Chinese health officials and reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) do disprove the claims made on social media that only Wuhan was affected.

An early WHO coronavirus situation report from January 20 confirmed the presence of coronavirus cases in Guangdong province, as well as in the Beijing and Shanghai municipalities ( here ).

Information from China’s National Health Commission (NHC) also confirms that coronavirus cases were identified in Beijing and Shanghai, spreading beyond Hubei province, where Wuhan—the epicenter of the virus—is located, ( here ). As late as March 28, the NHC confirmed 7 newly imported coronavirus cases in Shanghai and 4 in Beijing, ( here ).

An interactive map of coronavirus statistics by Johns Hopkins University, a reliable academic source for information on the pandemic’s development, also corroborates that in China, the coronavirus spread beyond Hubei’s borders, ( here ). The claims on social media alleging that in China the coronavirus was geographically confined to the city of Wuhan are therefore also inaccurate. However, it is true that Beijing and Shanghai, both cities that have adopted strict measures aimed at slowing transmission rates, have so far avoided a major coronavirus outbreak. In a report from the Chinese state news agency Xinhua, the head of Shanghai's medical team fighting the virus is quoted as saying that ”the measures taken by Shanghai over the past month are effective”. ( here )


False: The coronavirus spread beyond the city of Wuhan, even if it has not so far caused major outbreaks in Beijing and Shanghai. The Chinese stock market has been affected by the virus.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work .