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China revises Wuhan’s Covid-19 death toll with 50% rise, but denies cover-up

File photo of a woman cycling past an image of the Chinese flag after the lockdown was lifted in Wuhan April 10, 2020.
File photo of a woman cycling past an image of the Chinese flag after the lockdown was lifted in Wuhan April 10, 2020. © REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

Wuhan, the central Chinese city at the epicentre of the global pandemic, raised its number of Covid-19 fatalities by 1,290 to 3,869 deaths, state media said Friday. The revision was due to insufficient admission and treatment capabilities at the virus's peak, according to authorities.

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Wuhan's revised death toll of 3,869 is the highest in China, representing a 50 percent rise from its previous count. Numbers of total cases in the city of 11 million were also raised by 325 to 50,333, accounting for about two-thirds of China’s total 82,367 announced cases. 

The official Xinhua News Agency quoted an unidentified official with Wuhan’s epidemic and prevention and control headquarters as saying that during the early stages of the outbreak, “due to the insufficiency in admission and treatment capability, a few medical institutions failed to connect with the disease prevention and control system in time, while hospitals were overloaded and medics were overwhelmed with patients.

"As a result, belated, missed and mistaken reporting occurred,” the official was quoted as saying.

China denies cover-up

The revision came a day after French President Emmanuel Macron voiced scepticism over the accuracy of China's reporting of the outbreak. "There are clearly things that have happened that we don’t know about," said Macron in an interview with British daily, the Financial Times.

The US and UK have also questioned the accuracy of China's case figures amid accusations that Beijing sought to minimise the impact of the outbreak and initial delays in its response to the disease. 

China has, however, denied reports that it did not reveal the true extent of coronavirus fatalities. Speaking to reporters at a daily briefing Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said there has never been a cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak in China and the government does not allow any cover-ups.

"There has never been any concealment, and we'll never allow any concealment," he said.

Filling in 'missed cases'

The new figures revealed Friday were compiled through a comparison of data from Wuhan’s epidemic prevention and control big data system, the city funeral service system, the municipal hospital authority’s information system, and the nucleic acid test system to “remove double-counted cases and fill in missed cases,” the Xinhua News Agency quoted the unnamed official as saying. 

New death cases were added because non-hospitalised deaths had not been registered at the disease control information system and some confirmed cases had been reported late or not been reported at all by some medical institutions, the official said.

Questions have long swirled around the accuracy of China’s case reporting, with Wuhan in particular going several days in January without reporting new cases or deaths. 

China has said the virus emerged from a Wuhan food market whose merchandise reportedly included exotic wild animals sold for human consumption.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)

 

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