Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus first appeared late last year, updated the death rate from the disease dramatically upwards, admitting patients died at home and missed cases as hospitals failed to cope in the early days of the epidemic.
The adjustment, outlined by the city government on Friday in a social media post, raised the death toll by 1,290-about 50 percent-taking the number to 3,869. The change took China’s number of deaths to 4,632.
The revisions came when a number of international leaders indicated that China has not been completely transparent about the full domestic effects of a virus that has now infected more than 140,000 people worldwide and limited half of humanity to their homes.
China dismissed Western claims on Friday that it had covered up the severity of its coronavirus epidemic and refuted US accusations that it had an overly close alliance with the World Health Organization.
Spokesman for the Foreign Ministry Zhao Lijian admitted that the rapid dissemination of the virus contributed to undercounting, which resulted in China raising its death toll, but stressed that “there has never been any cover-up and we will never accept any cover-up.”
Chinese officials said medical institutions had postponed recording, and some patients died at home while hospitals failed to cope.
The overall number of reported cases of coronavirus in Wuhan was also upward updated-by 325 to 50,333, the government said.
“Strict death toll analysis and correction ensures there is no scope for intentional concealment,” the paper said. “Speculation that China has falsified the coronavirus death toll is far from the facts. China is not a place where one can produce data in total disregard of the laws.”
Nonetheless, the revisions are likely to play into the increasing narrative of Chinese unreliability by the Trump administration, which now seems to have some support from Britain and France.
British Secretary for Foreign Affairs Dominic Raab, actually filling in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson who is also suffering from the flu, said Beijing will have “hard questions.”
The allegations were dismissed by Beijing and Moscow, with Russian President Vladimir Putin condemning “an attempt by others to smear China”