A Biogen management meeting held in Boston in late February has spawned 108 confirmed or presumptive positive cases of the novel coronavirus—and has now led to a criminal investigation.
Monday, Beijing police said they had filed an investigation of a woman surnamed Li for hiding her health status when entering China, a potentially criminal offense. A Biogen spokesperson has confirmed to FiercePharma that it believes “Ms. Li is a U.S.-based Biogen employee who made a personal decision to travel to China.”
The Beijing government first disclosed Li’s case during a recent coronavirus press briefing. While keeping the identity of her employer under wraps at the time, authorities said she attended a company meeting Feb. 26-27, the exact days Biogen’s 175-person leadership conference took place.
Li, 37, a Chinese citizen and permanent Massachusetts resident, had been denied a COVID-19 test in that state, Chinese authorities said. According to local officials, she flew back to Beijing with known symptoms of COVID-19.
According to a representative from Air China, Li took the airline’s CA988 flight from Los Angeles to Beijing on March 12. About an hour after takeoff, Li told the flight attendant she wasn’t feeling well. Though she admitted a brief history of fever the week prior, her temperature at the time proved normal. Still, the attendant moved her to a quarantine zone at the tail of the aircraft.
Li also told the steward she was traveling alone and hadn't taken any medicine before the flight. The thing is, those statements weren’t true. Two hours before landing, Li again approached the flight attendant. This time, she acknowledged her husband and son were onboard—several rows ahead—and that she had taken antipyretic before boarding the plane. And she admitted a colleague at her U.S. firm had been infected....I can't imagine the circumstances in which this seemed like a good idea. And yet, here we are...