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China denies ‘cover-up’ after Wuhan COVID-19 deaths rise 50%

The Chinese government has denied any “cover-up” over official COVID-19 casualty figures after a sudden increase in the number of deaths was revealed.

“There’s never been any cover-up and we will never authorise any cover-up,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters on Friday.

The denial comes amid fresh criticism of China from some Western leaders — including French President Emmanuel Macronwho have questioned the accuracy of Beijing’s statistics and transparency.

New figures show there have been nearly 1,300 extra deaths in Wuhan. The city at the origin of the coronavirus outbreak has sharply raised its number of COVID-19 fatalities by 1,290 to make a new total of 3,869.

This represents the majority of all deaths in China, whose official death toll nationwide stands at 4,632 as of Friday (April 17).

The city of 11 million also has had some two-thirds of the country’s total number of confirmed cases. These have also been revised upwards by 325 to 50,333 — out of the country’s total of 82,367.

An official communique says the new figures are explained by the number of people who died at home, and didn’t show up at first in official reports.