China reported more than a thousand COVID-19 deaths that the communist nation had previously not disclosed, and blamed strained hospital capacity and medical staffing shortages for the lag in reporting, according to Forbes.
The sudden change casts more doubt on COVID-19 statistics out of China that are almost certainly severely underreported due to an ongoing effort by the Chinese government to conceal the impact of the virus that originated in the city of Wuhan in the Hubei province.
What was the update? China had previously reported a death toll of 2,579 in Wuhan. On Thursday, another 1,290 deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 3,869 in the city.
Overall, China claims 4,632 people died nationwide from COVID-19. In recent weeks, China has been reporting very few new cases and deaths, and claiming that many of the new cases have been imported from elsewhere.
Why the sudden change? "In the early stage, due to limited hospital capacity and the shortage of medical staff, a few medical institutions failed to connect with local disease control and prevention systems in a timely manner, which resulted in delayed reporting of confirmed cases and some failures to count patients accurately," an unidentified Chinese official said on state TV.
Why we shouldn't believe this, either: China attempted to hide the outbreak when it began, doctors who tried to get word out were chastised or disappeared, and there is evidence that there are actually more than 40,000 coronavirus deaths in Wuhan alone based on levels of cremation activity.
More recently, growing evidence has emerged that the virus was transmitted from bat to human in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, with that human then spreading it into the general population. That lab reportedly operates at the highest level of safety, BSL-4, but its work with bats was conducted at the lower level of BSL-2.