Tracking COVID before it was cool
What it’s like for a small intelligence group monitoring COVID-19 before the virus was even known by many
So back in the days of BIG when operations were ongoing and vibrant, I and other members of BackSlash Intelligence Group as you would expect in early January started monitoring COVID-19 or as originally known “Caronavirus or Wuhan-Flu”. At the early stages of the pandemic, it was merely and Outbreak and was passed in conversation in discord calls or passing comments, Until it was its number started to reach passed the hundreds and one possible case was suspected in the United States from a traveller.
The image below was the start of our serious monitoring in which we started up a full Backslash operation to monitor the global situation and start preparing ourselves for what might becoming because at this stage it was still unknown. If only we knew the things back then that we would have known by now
At this point, very little was known from inside Wuhan, and even now Wuhan had not been put into Quarantine. The only thing we knew about the virus was Human-To-Human transmissions, flu-like symptoms similar to a SARS/MERS virus. It was also unknown if the virus was an originally know virus from the Coronavirus family or a completely new virus, not seen before.
At this point, it was late for us most of us being in Western countries. Although the beauty of the Backslash Intelligence Group was the fact that we were a global organization, although primarily filled with Americans and English. We had members who were vetted by ourselves and trusted by us in different parts of the world.
So while the UK based team passed out in the early morning, The American Team would take over monitoring and populating the chat with updates and when they would go to sleep our Team in the Indias region would come online, followed soon by our European team. We had a team online monitoring 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It was when the UK team workup, we received the news Wuhan was being put into Quarantine and the Chinese military was going to be deployed to the region and the American based team has been scrapping different areas of social media in the city for information photos, and posts. What they had found out was people were rushing to stockpile, photos and imagery of people collapsing in the street, and over-filled hospitals. Containing large amounts of infected with severe flu-like symptoms and in many cases late-stage pneumonia, speedy change light flu symptoms to being ventilated.
We started gathering everything we could to be able to get a look inside the city, digging into social media feeds with Snapchat, Weechat, Telegram and using services like planet to be able to get High-Quality satellite imagery of Wuhan day by day so we could an idea, the scary things we could see was empty streets and locations there where busy had a large number of crowded people, these where locations such as the hospital, large shopping locations and what appeared to be testing locations setup
below is one of the high-level images captured from the planet platform from January 2020
Below are some screenshots pulled from social media locations such as Snapchat, Telegram, and Instagram from within Wuhan.
From left to right:
- PLA soldiers entering Wuhan to enforce city-wide quarantine (From Snapchat)
- Armed PLA soldiers patrolling within Wuhan apartment areas (From Snapchat)
- Footage from inside a makeshift hospital inside Wuhan (From Instagram)
Below is a screenshot of the Counter from John Hopkins University of reported cases globally, at this point, the counter was updated every few hours and it seemed to go from 1 or 2 to hundreds to eventually thousands per update, a very concerning thing to see.
Within 5 days of the above image, the numbers jumped to over 11,374 globally. Below is a screenshot of this for many of us in BIG with an understanding of human anatomy and basic medical practices, this was a major concern.
There were large amounts of social media watching and scraping everything from gaining access to group chats on telegram for the region. Reaching out to contacts in the medical industry that we had and asked about their information on the virus.
From this we were able to get on the ground understandings of what was happening, bellow is an example of social media posts we were seeing from left to right.
Videos from inside Wuhan’s main hospital | Patient transportation in Wuhan | People collapsing in the streets | Group chats between doctors | Armed PLA patrolling the streets in protective clothing
It wasnt long after seeing this kind of footage that we started seeing leaked footage coming from hospitals in China as well as starting to appear all over the world of rooms filled with body bags, and even in some places running out of body bags and just leaving bodies on beds, in chairs or wrapping them in bedsheets.
At the time this was a terrifying thing to see, that at the time this seemed to be killing people very fast form initial symptoms to the need for ventilation.
it was around this time that China had decided to build a new hospital just for the COVID pandemic, the original plan was 6 days but in total it took 10 days for the hospital to become usable. We felt we needed to look into this, was this really to be a hospital or was it to be something more sinister in the sense of something from years ago Leeper Island’s were anyone who had contracted leprosy was put on an island to fend for themselves and stop the spread.
The hospital was very public on the outside during the building process which included live streams from news sources and other public Webcams pointed towards the building site. But this wasn’t enough for us we had to dig more, we found the companies involved in the construction, search for their works, and monitored their feeds until we got what we wanted. Photos and videos from inside the new hospital, bellow is some stills from inside the hospital we were able to. I won’t post the footage because there is speaking of what appears to be names and other information in it.
But below you can see the inside of this hospital things such as Long corridors, Bars on windows and more
There were some interesting things that were found during our investigations, I decided with advice from others not to share these as a lot of it could not be confirmed as a lot of it was RUMINT coming from Chinese social media sources. Below was one thing I decided to share as it was regarding stock changes for covid in china
China Mobile Subscriptions announced to have dropped by 8 Million users, China Telecom Corp announces a loss of over 5.6 Million Users, and China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd subscription loss of 1.2 million with other companies, according to Bloomberg this is totaling over 21 million users losses over January and March 2020 “https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-23/china-s-mobile-carriers-lose-15-million-users-as-virus-bites”
The scary side of the information is that that if we take the population of 1 billion people, find out what the around 21 million of that is we get 2.1% of the population. The global mortality rate is between 2-4% according to John Hopkins University charting. We can take into consideration the loss of service due to the loss of finance to be able to pay for services, people leaving the country such as migrant workers and more, But if not it is a scary thought that the numbers could be a loss of life.
Backslash Timeline of Covid Monitoring (Not Full List Just Quick Points):
New Year’s Eve – Small Reports of Pneumonia clusters in China, posts on imageboards from users in china
10th January 2020 – Initial discussions of the new virus from Intelligence sources and chatter about a possible virus among the group members in China while hanging out in voice chats
21st January 2020 – Backslash Intelligence Group starts monitoring the situation in the City of Wuhan “Hubei Province” | BIG starts monitors all flights out of Wuhan
22nd January 2020 – WHO Emergency Committee convenes | Confirmed Human-to-Humans Transfers | Wuhan put into Full Quarantine 10:00 Beijing Standard Time| WHO confirm reports Higher then known Intell | 17 Death’s Confirmed | China Releasing Airborne Agents to counter Virus | All Flights and public transport canceled | Chinese military prepare to deploy | WHO says 7 day Incubation period | Small number cases in Japan 1, South Korea 1 and Thailand 1. Visitors who traveled WUHAN | first Suspected Case’s in the US and Russia |
23rd January 2020 – China confirms 571 cases | RUMINT: 4-40k Infected | Local doctor Leaks 6k cases on social media | Videos of people dying in the street and testing of people at public locations in Wuhan start to appear on social media | Armed PLA in chemical suits spotted in Wuhan streets on cameras | Suspected Infected person in France posts on social media
31st January 2020 – Case count brakes 11k |
1st February 2020 – Backslash Intelligence Group tells members to start preparing food, water, masks, and family members for a possible global event.
15th February 2020 – France confirms first death | cases in Italy, South Korea, and Iran spike | 1 death outside of Asia reported |
19th February 2020 – Troops Mobilising globally in each country for support
22nd February 2020 – Rioting and Looting braking out in countries over stockpiling and short supply
27th February 2020 – Countries setting up mass infected sites around the globe
6th March 2020 – 100,000 Cases confirmed globally | Italy put into lockdown |
11th March 2020 – WHO classes COVID-19 a pandemic | Global stock market crash |
13th March 2020 – Europe mainland is now a pandemic hot zone
16th March 2020 – US Peace Corps ceases all International Deployments, All members evacuated immediately |
18th March 2020 – Most countries shut borders | flights canceled | Multiple countries go into lockdown |
24th March 2020 – UN Confirms COVID-19 has the potential to be cataclysmic and “is threatening the whole of humanity”
2nd April 2020 – One Million cases officially declared | Half of the world in Lockdown
10 April 2020 – 100,000 deaths confirmed globally | USA now a hot zone
12 April 2020 – Backslash Intelligence group Terminate all Operations globally | Global death rate close to 200,000
At this point, all main investigations were stopped mainly due to concern for family and prepping things getting worse, getting food, water, cleaning supplies, and more. From time to time, I and others keep an eye on numbers and monitoring increased rates of infections in our areas. Using services like Tweetdeck to monitor
In conclusion to this post, there is still a lot of unanswered questions both from the Chinese Government regarding the virus. For example, it is still unknown whether or not the virus was something engineered that got leaked, or if it was a naturally occurring virus. Although there have been increases in research including Rumors that the virus appears to have been engineered because it possibly contained proteins that are not naturally according to mutations of this type of virus.
Now I’m no virologist so I can’t really comment on this other then what has been heard from different sources and read about from medical professionals online. I am sure eventually we will have and understand how this virus came to be, but for now, all we can do is guess and wait until it is released where this comes from and what happened