China Increases Wuhan Death Count by 50%

Staff at Wuhan Union Hospital stand in silent tribute to those who died of COVID-19. April 4, 2020.  Image: Wu Yili/China News Service/Getty
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Staff at Wuhan Union Hospital stand in silent tribute to those who died of COVID-19. April 4, 2020. Image: Wu Yili/China News Service/Getty

China upped the number of coronavirus deaths in Wuhan by 50% earlier today—while denying there had been a cover-up, Reuters reports.
 
The numbers climbed from 1,290 to 3,869, raising the country’s official death toll to 4,632.

The move at least partially validates charges of government under-reporting. Photos of long lines of family members waiting to pick up ashes of deceased relatives and news of thousands of urns at a funeral home had sparked distrust.

The revision also follows international skepticism about official numbers, including reports the CIA warned the White House that China was hiding the true extent of COVID-19, according to The New York Times.  

Chinese officials blamed a lack of counting of people who died at home, poor reporting by overwhelmed hospitals, and institutions that weren’t linked to the epidemic information networks, AP reports.

In a Twitter thread, author and global health expert Laurie Garrett warned that “All major models of the #pandemic and CFR are based on prior China numbers. It’s model revision time, Folks.”

In addition to suspect counting, China also has been criticized for keeping silent about the outbreak in mid-January—allowing it to spread before the government launched aggressive social restrictions.

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