Possible Cover-up of Fresh Virus Outbreak in China Could Prove Costly

Fears That China May Cover Up Fresh Wave of Coronavirus Outbreak

Until more recently, the belief was that China had successfully brought the COVID-19 virus under control. But evidence from other countries suggests that the country might not have presented a truly accurate picture of the situation.

COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 Pandemic

At a time when countries around the world were enforcing strict lockdowns to combat the pandemic, China was relaxing movement restrictions it had previously announced. Many believed that the country had sufficiently dealt with the outbreak among its people.

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Other countries probably thought that lockdowns must be very effective for checking the virus going by the seeming evidence in the Asian country. The number of people contracting the pathogen, first reported at the end of December, had become so negligible by March.

However, cases of infection are rising almost everywhere else despite the restrictions. This, for some, raises the question: did Chinese officials really give the true picture?

The suspicion that China might not be providing accurate data on the outbreak in its territory increased when the death toll at the initial epicenter was revised up.

Inaccurate death figures

It seems the Chinese government has not been reporting the correct numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths all along.

In a recent The Telegraph op-ed, Ross Clark noted that the country said the number of deaths in Wuhan was 3,869. That represented an upward revision of the previous figure by about 50 percent.

Yet, the number may be a lot higher, Clark stated.

Read Also: China’s Government Censoring Research on the Origins of the Pandemic

Outside of China, death figures that health authorities release do not necessarily paint the real picture. They mostly only take into consideration those that die at public health facilities.

For instance, according to The Telegraph op-ed, Public Health England death figures exclude people who die in care homes.

The WHO complicity

Officials of the World Health Organization have also been accused of giving validity to inaccurate data. The international health body depended so much, or so it seems, on data from China, at least in earlier months.

WHO’s director-general had reportedly lauded the country for its transparent handling of the outbreak. This was despite police threats to the Chinese doctor that first called attention to the new virus and later died of it, Clark noted.

Read Also: Wuhan Laboratory Finally Refutes Claims That Virus Originated There

Perhaps, the worst undoing of the WHO was the statement by a delegation of its officials that there was no evidence that the virus was transmissible between humans. Information made available by health authorities in China most likely influenced that line of thought.

The claim that the coronavirus was probably not transmissible between humans might have made other countries to not treat it with much urgency. For instance, U.S. President Donald Trump has been accused of taking action rather too late.

Accurate data on outbreak vital but less likely

Some experts think that a new wave of coronavirus infections may sweep through China. This follows the removal recently of the lockdown imposed on Wuhan months ago.

It will be helpful for countries elsewhere to have accurate data on new infections and deaths that might occur in China. This will be critical for assessing and re-assessing measures other governments are taking to combat the pandemic.

Read Also: Should the US Send a Bill to China for Damages?

However, experience does not leave room for much optimism, even though it is critical to have correct data to avert an even greater disaster.

Actions by the Chinese government mostly do not encourage the availability of factual data. There were reports of officials silencing medical professionals and temporarily shutting down a research center that released the genome sequence of the COVID-19 virus.

A Wuhan-based doctor, Ai Fen, temporarily disappeared after speaking with a magazine about the early days of the epidemic in March. There has also been a huge increase in the number of people arrested for sharing content relating to the coronavirus.

Data from China can help other countries to know when best to remove movement restrictions. Sadly, it does not look like that is worth depending on currently.

References

It will be a disaster for the world if China is covering up a second coronavirus wave (https://www.yahoo.com/news/disaster-world-china-covering-second-130435636.html)

It will be a disaster for the world if China is covering up a second coronavirus wave (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/04/17/will-disaster-world-china-covering-second-coronavirus-wave/)

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