In the city where it all began, Wuhan health officials revised the city’s official death toll, reported the state-run Xinhua News Agency. Previously at 2,579, authorities now say that the death toll is at 3,869 — a 50% increase from the original.
Wuhan, the epicenter of the pandemic currently sweeping the globe, also revised its total number of confirmed cases up by 325, for a total of 50,333. (For the latest Philippine statistics, check out this tracker.)
To explain the sudden change in official numbers, an unnamed official of the local epidemic prevention and control body told Xinhua, “In the early period of the outbreak, due to the insufficiency in admission and treatment capability, a few medical institutions failed to connect with the disease prevention and control system in time, while hospitals were overloaded and medics were overwhelmed with patients.”
Preoccupied with saving patients, Xinhua wrote, Wuhan hospitals suffered from “belated, missed, and mistaken reporting” — a line echoed by the unnamed official.
In compliance with Chinese law, the Wuhan government rectified their case numbers on Friday, April 17.
Reuters said that the revised number of deaths seems to have confirmed “residents' worst fears” and fueled even more local speculation about the true extent of COVID-19 deaths inside the city.
Leaders all over the globe have also cast doubt on how China handled the pandemic.
“Do you really believe those numbers in this vast country called China?” asked US president Donald Trump in a Thursday press briefing at the White House.
In the Thursday edition of the Financial Times, French president Emmanuel Macron also raised concerns over China’s transparency in dealing with the crisis.
While he “respects” what China is today, Macron wrote, “There are clearly things that have happened that we don't know about."
In their defense, the unnamed official told Xinhua, the timely revision of the figures “shows respect for every single life.”
“Following the principle of being responsible for history, for the people and for the deceased, the headquarters took the initiative to make the revision truthfully,” they added.
As of early Saturday, Manila time, the number of confirmed cases worldwide stands at 2,234,109, with 153,379 deaths. China has 82,692 confirmed cases with 4,632 deaths.