At least 50 percent more people in Wuhan died from the novel coronavirus than China previously stated, according to the New York Times. Chinese state media announced on Friday that it was sharply revising its public death count in the area, claiming that an overwhelmed health care system made tracking difficult.
Now, the death toll in Wuhan has climbed to 3,869, adding 1,290 previously uncounted deaths. In the country, 4,632 people have died from the virus, according to the new numbers.
The new total includes people who died at home as the outbreak first began, as well as deaths that may have been misattributed on death certificates.
For weeks, people have been suspicious that China’s reported figures may have been inaccurate or misleading. The revised numbers confirm that the country may not have been able to provide an accurate account in the past. The C.I.A. has expressed concern to the White House that China’s death count is low, and President Emmanuel Macron of France has expressed a similar skepticism about the country’s reporting, saying “there are clearly things that have happened that we don’t know about.”
China is unlikely to be the only country with an inaccurate tally of the number of cases and deaths being reported. It’s difficult to get an accurate count when health services are overwhelmed. It’s also likely that some early deaths prior to a widespread understanding of the disease were attributed to something else.
In the United States, lack of available testing could also hamper the attempt to obtain an accurate count.
As AP News reports, when Wuhan didn’t report any new cases for several days in January, despite being at the peak of the pandemic there, some accused China of trying to minimize its role in the virus’ spread.
U.S. President Donald Trump has sought to place blame on China after initially praising Chinese President Xi Jinping for his handling of the outbreak. In recent weeks, he has repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus,” despite criticism that his language could put Asian-Americans at risk.
Right-wing commentator Lou Dobbs has suggested that the United States should go to war with China over the situation.
But China has denied that it is trying to hide or alter information coming out of the country.
“The data released by Wuhan reflects openness and transparency and an attitude of seeking truth from facts,” spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
Initially, China was hesitant to release information about the virus, waiting until more than 3,000 people, according to some estimates, were infected before going public with the severity of the outbreak.