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CNN: Leaked documents prove that 'China underreported COVID-19 numbers'

You don't say?

(VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

CNN reported Monday that a trove of leaked internal documents from China prove that the communist nation underreported COVID-19 numbers in the early stages of the outbreak.

The news confirms what U.S. officials have believed for months: that China did not tell the truth about the severity of the pandemic from the beginning.

What are the details?

In its exclusive report, CNN revealed details from 117 pages of documents verified by experts to have come from the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The city of Wuhan, where the virus was first discovered, is the capital of Hubei province.

The documents show that on Feb. 10, there were more than 5,900 new cases of coronavirus in the province, but officials reported that there were only 3,911.

On Feb. 17, Chinese officials reported that there were 93 COVID-19 deaths, but the documents showed there were actually 196 — more than twice what the government disclosed.

For the date of March 7, the officials underreported both deaths and new cases. The leaked documents showed 115 new cases and 3,456 deaths, but officials reported that there were only 83 new cases and 2,986 deaths.

Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations told CNN after reviewing the documents, "It was clear they did make mistakes — and not just mistakes that happen when you're dealing with a novel virus — also bureaucratic and politically-motivated errors in how they handled it." He added, "If you look at the local level, the picture is not as rosy as the government had claimed."

Andrew Mertha, director of the China Studies Program at John Hopkins University, said that the underreported numbers from February "appeared to be a deception, for unsurprising reasons," explaining, "China had an image to protect internationally, and lower-ranking officials had a clear incentive to under-report — or to show their superiors that they were underreporting — to outside eyes."

U.S. intelligence officials warned the White House months ago in a classified report that China was underreporting both its COVID-19 case numbers and deaths, according to an April 1 report from Bloomberg.

President Donald Trump said of China at the time, "Their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side, and I'm being nice when I say that."

Vice President Mike Pence told CNN the same day:

The reality is that we could have been better off if China had been more forthcoming. What appears evident now is that long before the world learned in December that China was dealing with this, and maybe as much as a month earlier than that, that the outbreak was real in China.
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