The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was born last year, has increased the official death toll, Covid-19, by 50%, killing 1,290.
Wuhan officials attributed the new figure to up-to-date information and deaths outside hospitals. China insisted that there was no cover-up.
He was charged with downplaying the severity of his viral epidemic.
Wuhan’s 11 million people have spent months in tight lockdowns, which were only eased recently.
The latest official figures bring the death toll in the city of China’s central Hubei province to 3,869, bringing the national total to more than 4,600.
China has confirmed nearly 84,000 coronavirus infections, the seventh highest in the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The virus had a huge impact on the Chinese economy, which fell for the first time in decades in the first quarter of the year.
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What is China’s explanation for the increase in deaths?
In a statement released on Friday, officials in Wuhan said the revised figures were the result of new data received from several sources, including registers maintained by funeral homes and prisons.
Deaths from the virus outside hospitals, such as those who died at home, had not been recorded before.
“Statistical verification” follows efforts by authorities to “ensure that information on the Covid-19 epidemic in the city is open, transparent and that data [is] accurate, “said the press release.
She added that health systems were initially overwhelmed and the cases were “reported in error” – in some cases counted more than once and in others completely missed.
A shortage of testing capabilities in the early stages means that many infected patients have been overlooked, he added.
A spokesperson for the Chinese National Health Commission, Mi Feng, said the new death toll came from a “full review” of the epidemic data.
In its daily press conference, the Department of Foreign Affairs said that the charges of cover-up, which were most strongly raised on the world stage by US President Donald Trump, were unfounded. “We will never allow cover-up,” said a spokesperson.
Why are there concerns about China’s figures?
Friday’s revised figures come amid growing international concern that deaths in China have been underreported. Questions were also asked about how Beijing handled the epidemic, particularly in its early days.
In December 2019, Chinese authorities launched an investigation into a mysterious viral pneumonia after cases began to circulate in Wuhan.
China reported the cases to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations’ global health agency, on December 31.
But WHO experts were only allowed to visit China and investigate the epidemic on February 10, when the country had more than 40,000 cases.
Wuhan mayor previously admitted there was no action between early January – when around 100 cases were confirmed – and January 23, when city-wide restrictions were enacted .
At the time, a doctor who tried to warn colleagues about an Sars-like virus epidemic was silenced by authorities. Dr. Li Wenliang later died of Covid-19.
The almost 50% increase in Wuhan’s death toll has left some analysts wondering if this is all too clear cut.
For months, questions were asked about the veracity of the official Chinese statistics on coronaviruses.
The conclusion was that some Chinese officials may have deliberately underreported deaths and infections to give the impression that cities and towns have successfully managed the emergency.
If this were the case, the Chinese authorities should not have known how badly this crisis could worsen in other countries, which means that his own figures now seem unlikely.
Authorities in Wuhan, where the first group of this disease was reported, said that there had been no deliberate misrepresentation of the data, but rather that emergency stabilization had given them time to reconsider reported cases and add any previously missed cases.
The fact that the new death toll was released at the same time as a press conference announcing a total collapse of China’s economic growth figures has led some to question whether it was a deliberate attempt to bury either of these stories.
Again, this could also be a complete coincidence.
But China has also been praised for handling the crisis and the unprecedented restrictions it has put in place to slow the spread of the virus. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised China for “the speed with which [it] detected the epidemic “and its” commitment to transparency “.
President Donald Trump cut funding to the WHO this week, accusing him of making fatal mistakes and over-trusting China.
“Do you really believe these numbers in this vast country called China, and that they have a number of cases and a number of deaths; does anyone really believe it? Trump said Wednesday in the White House.
French President Emmanuel Macron also questioned China’s treatment of the coronavirus epidemic, saying it was “naïve” to suggest that the country had handled the crisis better, adding “arrivals that we don’t know” .
British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said on Thursday: “We will have to ask questions [coronavirus] came into being and how he could not have been arrested earlier. “