KEY POINTS

  • The coronavirus death toll in Wuhan was raised 1,290 from the previously reported count to 3,869
  • Total number of confirmed cases in the city was also increased from 50,008 to 50,333
  • The change comes as China has faced mounting accusations that officials have not been transparent with the number of cases and deaths caused by the pandemic

Chinese officials on Friday raised by half the death count in Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak began, amid accusations from President Trump and other world leaders regarding China's lack of transparency about the extent of the outbreak. The death toll from COVID-19 was raised to 3,869 in Wuhan, an increase of 1,290.

The number of total confirmed cases was also increased from 50,008 to 50,333 in the Hubei province’s capital.

“They are on the defensive, clearly,” Hong Kong Baptist University political science professor Jean-Pierre Cabestan told the New York Times. “It’s an uphill battle now for China to improve its image.”

Xinhua News Agency quoted an official, whose name was not released, about the reasons behind the revised numbers.

“The Municipal Epidemic Prevention and Control Command attaches great importance to the correction of the number of confirmed cases and deaths of new cases of pneumonitis,” the official said.

The official said the totals were changed after authorities conducted an investigation to identify deaths from coronavirus that went unreported.

China’s revision comes after months of criticism from various world leaders about the handling of the Wuhan outbreak and an alleged lack of transparency. Trump and his administration have been among the most vocal critics, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently telling China to “come clean” over speculation the virus originated from a lab in Wuhan. Trump pulled funding from the World Health Organization on Tuesday after complaining the organization was too close to China.

“Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death,” Trump told reporters Tuesday.

“Instead, the WHO willingly took China’s assurances to face value.”

This was an about-face from Trump who repeatedly praised China’s efforts on Twitter to contain the spread of COVID-19 in January and February.

Wuhan is slowly reopening after a lockdown to prevent transmission of the virus Wuhan is slowly reopening after a lockdown to prevent transmission of the virus Photo: AFP / Hector RETAMAL