Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus pandemic in China, has begun taking steps towards normalcy by easing stringent lockdown measure which were implemented nearly two months ago.
China has reported a drop in Covid-19 cases since the past few days owing to the drastic curbs on international travellers according to Reuters. However, just as Wuhan tries to emerge from the virulent outbreak and takes steps towards restoring normalcy, a jolt of reality is expected to strike its residents.
Official Chinese statistics put Wuhan’s coronavirus death toll at 2,563. Evidence coming out of the city suggests it was actually more than 40,000. Our latest: https://t.co/6D2zHtAd17
— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) April 3, 2020
A report by Washington Post Beijing bureau chief Anna Fifield has suggested that the real number of people who have died from the coronavirus in Wuhan is more than 16 times than the number reported by the Chinese Government.
The Washington Post reported that the coronavirus pandemic which began in a Wuhan market that sold exotic animals for consumption has officially claimed 2,563 lives. But evidence that had emerged post the lockdown has suggested the actual death toll to be exponentially higher.
Using photos posted by netizens on social media, analysts have estimated that several Wuhan funeral homes had returned 3,500 urns a day since March 23 which would put the actual death toll around 42,000. Another widely shared calculation based on the 84 furnaces that have run nonstop in Wuhan has put the figure around 46,800.
Radio Free Asia (RFA) also mentioned in its report about the growing scepticism among Wuhan residents regarding the Chinese Governments figure of 2,500 deaths. Caixin.com reported that 5,000 urns had been delivered by a supplier to the Hankou Funeral Home in one day.
A highly placed source close to the provincial civil affairs bureau told RFA that many people had passed away in their homes without receiving any treatment. Wuhan residents have also alleged that city officials have been paying 3,000 yuan as funeral allowance to the families of the deceased to buy their silence.
The report by Anna Fifield has come at a crucial time when a classified report of US intelligence that was presented to White House last week claimed that China intentionally under-reported the actual number of Covid-19 cases.
Earlier, Deborah Birx, the US State Department immunologist advising the White House on tackling the Covid-19 pandemic said that China’s reporting influenced assumptions in the world about the nature of the virus.
“The medical community made — interpreted the Chinese data as – This was serious but smaller than anyone expected,” she said at a news conference on Tuesday. “Because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of the data, now that what we see happened to Italy and see what happened to Spain.”
US President Donald Trump had also stated – “China’s numbers appear a bit on the downside and I’m being nice when I say that,” at a coronavirus briefing recently. US Vice-President Mike Pence too echoed the same sentiment and said that Beijing was aware about a month or two earlier about the pandemic what the world knew in December.