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China’s cover-up of COVID-19 death toll in Wuhan is revealed

China’s cover-up of COVID-19 death toll in Wuhan is revealed

Posted April. 18, 2020 07:25,   

Updated April. 18, 2020 07:25


The suspicion that the Chinese government has been underreporting the number of deaths from COVID-19 has been confirmed. According to Xinhua News Agency, the Wuhan municipal government in Hubei province reported on Friday that the total number of deaths in the city as of Thursday is 3,869, which is 1,290 higher than the previous official figure. The city’s number of confirmed cases is also 325 higher than the previous figure at 50,333.

The death toll in Wuhan as of Thursday announced by the National Health Commission of China two hours earlier on Friday was 2,579. This means deaths equivalent to about 50 percent of the previously reported figure had not been included until now.

Control and Prevention, and the Public Security Bureau have worked together to come up with the new figure based on data from hospitals, nursing homes, funeral data systems, etc. The city authorities explained that such a gap in death toll has been caused by some patients died at home without having been treated in hospitals due to the surge of new cases in the early stage of the COVID-19 outbreak; during the height of their treating efforts, hospitals were operating beyond their capacities and medical staff was preoccupied with saving and treating patients, resulting in belated, missed and mistaken reporting; and the registered information of some of the deceased patients was incomplete, and there were repetitions and mistakes in the reporting. This, however, led to criticism that the authorities are shifting the responsibility for unreported deaths to health care providers in the front line.

The distrust of the Chinese government’s COVID-19 statistics has been growing as figures were revised at times and suspicion for the government’s cover-up has been raised. Chinese media Caixin recently reported that the number of urns shipped for COVID-19 deaths in Wuhan looked to be more than double the city’s death toll.

Wan-Jun Yun zeitung@donga.com