US intelligence officials have revealed that China has concealed the true extent of the Coronavirus outbreak in its country, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday.
Three unnamed US officials said a classified report submitted to the White House showed China lowered its public reporting on the number of cases and deaths.
The conclusion of the report is China's numbers are fake, according to Bloomberg News, which cited two of the three officials.
The outbreak began in China's Hubei province in December of 2019. At present, the communist country has reported only 82,000 cases and 3,300 deaths according to data on the pandemic compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Those numbers fail to compare with the more than 200,000 cases and more than 5,000 deaths in the US, which would make the US the location of the largest outbreak in the world if you believe China's numbers are accurate.
Skepticism about China's numbers has swirled throughout the crisis, fueled by official efforts by the regime to quash bad news in the early days and a general distrust of the communist government. Long lines of people waiting to collect the ashes of loved ones at funeral homes last week revived the debate.
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The health system in Wuhan, the city where three-fourths of China's victims died, was overwhelmed at the peak of the outbreak. Hospitals overflowed, patients with symptoms were sent home and there weren't enough kits to test everyone. In any country, getting a complete picture in the fog of war is virtually impossible.
"The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 by country appears like a grim league table and draws the attention of many," said Hsu Li Yang, who heads the infectious diseases program at the National University of Singapore. "However, it is important to understand that these numbers – be it from China, Italy, Singapore or the USA – are all inaccurate, and they are all underestimates to varying degrees of the actual number of infections."
At a press briefing Tuesday, Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, pointed to the "missing" data from China.
"The medical community interpreted the Chinese data as, this was serious but smaller than anyone expected," Birx said at a press briefing. "Because, probably…we were missing a significant amount of the data, now that we see what happened to Italy and we see what happened to Spain."
In a commentary for The Daily Signal website, Helle C. Dale, senior fellow in public diplomacy at The Heritage Foundation, writes, "Over the past decade, Beijing has invested heavily in extending its propaganda reach across the globe, which now is paying off."
"The idea that some American and European news outlets are giving more credibility to the Chinese party line on the Coronavirus than they do to their own governments is nothing less than bizarre," Dale observed. "Yet, here we are."
Dale also cites the Media Research Center which said in a report: "the same news media that continuously piles on Trump fails almost entirely to shine a critical light on the actions of the Chinese government."
"What is much harder to comprehend is the readiness of the mainstream media to give Beijing a pass – all the while showing irrational disdain for the heroic efforts of America's president and his administration," she concluded.