Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus outbreak began in late 2019, has revised its coronavirus death toll by 50%, admitting that a further 1,290 people have died after contracting the virus, but China denies that it covered up the figures.
The total number of people who have died after contracting coronavirus in Wuhan now stands at 3,869, up from the 2,579 initially reported.
The number of cases was also revised and rose by 325, to a total of 50,333 in the city.
Across mainland China, no new deaths were reported on Thursday, but 26 new cases were recorded, 15 of which were “imported cases.”
Wuhan claims the lag in numbers was down to a shortage of medical staff and limited hospital capacity, leading to some hospitals not updating local disease control officials.
China’s figures have been questioned by journalists, who have asked officials about the accuracy of the death toll, Reuters reported, while foreign leaders, including President Trump and France’s Emmanuel Macron, have also questioned China’s data.
But on Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian denied a cover-up: “There has never been any concealment, and we’ll never allow any concealment,” he said.
In numbers: To date, China has claimed that 4,632 people have died there after contracting coronavirus, its health authorities have said, while there have been 82,367 cases. A recent investigation by the Associated Press found that China waited six days before warning the public of a likely outbreak of coronavirus.
Crucial comment: An unidentified Wuhan official, reported by state TV, said: “In the early stage, due to limited hospital capacity and the shortage of medical staff, a few medical institutions failed to connect with local disease control and prevention systems in a timely manner, which resulted in delayed reporting of confirmed cases and some failures to count patients accurately,” Reuters reported.
Chief critic: China’s records have come under increasing scrutiny of late, particularly when compared to other hard-hit countries such as the U.S., U.K., France, Italy and Spain that have seen far higher death tolls and infections, despite having far smaller populations.,
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump questioned China’s death toll at his daily press conference saying: “Do you really believe those numbers in this vast country called China, and that they have a certain number of cases and a certain number of deaths; does anybody really believe that?” The U.S. is the worst-hit country, with more than 670,000 infections to date, and 33,000 deaths.
During an interview with the Financial Times, Macron questioned how China had handled the outbreak that has infected more than 2 million people worldwide. “There are clearly things that have happened that we don’t know about,” he said.
Key background: As the impact of the pandemic within and outside hospitals continue to emerge, other nations could potentially face higher death tolls as authorities begin to include numbers not just of hospital deaths and people who tested positive, but those who die in nursing homes, or of suspected coronavirus in their homes, for example. In the U.K., figures from the Office for National Statistics this week showed that coronavirus deaths in Enland were 15% higher than those recorded by the government, after deaths in care homes were included.