According to reports from the Chinese government, the worst of the coronavirus outbreak in the communist nation has passed, and even the hardest-hit regions have started returning to normal.
Those reports are being disputed by local Chinese officials who say the government is using deceptive measures to create the appearance of normal business operations and productivity, according to the Chinese media outlet Caixin.
Back to normal? For the first time since the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, was discovered, China has reported no new infections. For the past couple of days, the number of new reported deaths has been in the single digits.
As a result, some of the businesses in China that were forced to shut down have begun reopening, and some travel restrictions have been lifted (although that is creating some new issues, including a fear of imported COVID-19 cases).
Not what it seems: Although the Chinese government, well-known for concealing or manipulating information, would obviously prefer the world seeing signs of strength and recovery, that might not be the case. Chinese whistleblowers tell Caixin they're working to create an appearance that things are back to normal when they're not:
Beijing has spent much of the outbreak pushing districts to carry on business as usual, with some local governments subsidizing electricity costs and even installing mandatory productivity quotas. Zhejiang, a province east of the epicenter city of Wuhan, claimed as of Feb. 24 it had restored 98.6 percent of its pre-coronavirus work capacity.
But civil servants tell Caixan that businesses are actually faking these numbers. Beijing had started checking Zhejiang businesses' electricity consumption levels, so district officials ordered the companies to start leaving their lights and machinery on all day to drive the numbers up, one civil servant said. Businesses have reportedly falsified staff attendance logs as well — they "would rather waste a small amount of money on power than irritate local officials," Caixan writes.
The number of reported coronavirus cases worldwide has now surpassed the number in China, and Italy alone has more reported deaths than China, despite having nearly 40,000 few reported cases.
(H/T: Yahoo News)