China on Friday (Apr 17) denied any cover-up, following the raising of the death toll in the Chinese city worst-hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Wuhan abruptly raised its death toll by 50 per cent, saying many fatal cases were “mistakenly reported” or missed entirely in an admission that comes amid growing global doubts about Chinese transparency.
The city government said in a social media posting that it had added 1,290 deaths to the tally in Wuhan, where the global pandemic emerged and which has suffered the vast majority of China’s fatalities from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
That brings the total number of deaths in the city to 3,869.
The change also pushes the nationwide death toll up by nearly 39 per cent to 4,632, based on official national data released earlier on Friday.
“A surging number of patients at the early stage of the pandemic overwhelmed medical resources and the admission capacity of medical institutions,” the Wuhan Municipal Headquarters for COVID-19 Epidemic Prevention and Control, said in a statement posted to state news agency Xinhua.
“Some patients died at home without having been treated in hospitals. During the height of their treating efforts, hospitals were operating beyond their capacities, and medical staff were preoccupied with saving and treating patients, resulting in belated, missed and mistaken reporting.”
After compiling data from Wuhan’s epidemic prevention and control big data system, the city’s 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,’ Chinese officials say the new death cases were added because non-hospitalized 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.
China has now denied editing its official death toll for political purposes.
In an editorial, the Global Times, a tabloid owned by the Communist Party, rejected the accusations and said the revisions were made “based on facts” and that China had not been affected by “Western noise.”
“The strict review and correction of the death toll means there is no room for deliberate concealment,” the paper said. “Speculation that China falsified the death toll from the coronavirus is far from the truth. China is not a country where one can fabricate data in complete disregard of the law.”