China has been ordered to downplay a mystery wave of pneumonia as cases of illness surge across the country, an insider has claimed.
Medics are said to have been told not to reveal the cause of the sickness and to avoid using the term "Covid-19".
The illness which has caused "unusual symptoms" has forced the country to bring back masks and social distancing.
As fears of a new pandemic grow, hospitals have become overwhelmed with sick children - particularly in the north of the country.
People waiting outside children's hospital in BeijingREUTERS
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.