The Chinese government deliberately hid the true severity of the coronavirus outbreak in their country, according to a classified document given to the White House last week by U.S. intelligence officials, Bloomberg reports.
Three U.S. officials, speaking to Bloomberg on condition of anonymity, said that the classified report -- the details of which they could not discuss -- stated that China deliberately gave "incomplete" or "fake" numbers, obfuscating both the number of coronavirus cases and the number of deaths in their country.
According to Worldometers, as of this writing, China has 81,000 coronavirus cases and 3,312 deaths. By comparison, the United States -- which is now the country hit hardest by the pandemic worldwide -- has had 203,000 cases and nearly 4,500 deaths.
China's reporting of the severity of the pandemic has been haphazard, as the country has repeatedly revised how it counts its cases.
Some within China itself are concerned about the true extent of the pandemic. For example, as previously reported by The Inquisitr, a massive shipment of urns to the country has many Chinese convinced their government isn't being honest about how many people have died as a result of the pandemic. Indeed, stacks of urns have been spotted outside funeral homes in Hubei province. In Wuhan alone -- where the pandemic is believed to have originated -- some residents believe the death toll in that city may be as high as 47,000.
Deborah Birx, the State Department immunologist advising the White House on its response to the outbreak, said China's alleged under-reporting may have affected how other countries reacted to the pandemic.
"The medical community made -- interpreted the Chinese data as: This was serious, but smaller than anyone expected. Because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of the data, now that what we see happened to Italy and see what happened to Spain," Birx said.
China isn't the only country being accused of under-reporting their pandemic information, however.
North Korea, for example, has reported they have not seen a single case of the disease. Iran, Russia, and Indonesia are believed to be downplaying their own coronavirus numbers, as are Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Tuesday that China and other nations must accurately report their coronavirus cases, so public health officials can properly respond to the pandemic.
"I would urge every nation: Do your best to collect the data. Do your best to share that information. We're doing that," Pompeo said.