NHS chief discusses reality of coronavirus hospital patient figures
Hundreds of revellers took to the streets of Wuhan, the former epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic, in jubilant scenes, while the majority of the globe adhered to strict lockdown measures. Images of the celebrations caused fury among the public in the UK and US, with many describing it as unfair and a “PR stunt”. China has been under the microscope by many medical authorities, after it has so far only confirmed 96,000 cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began last year.
Many have been critical of the official statistics, including a new study from a Chinese group which estimated around 500,000 cases in Wuhan alone.
That figure, the Guardian reports, is nearly 10 times the official figure released by the government for Wuhan.
The study was compiled by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and researchers noted that there was an antibody rate of 4.43 percent among the population of Wuhan – which homes 11 million people.
This, the CDC suggests, means 487,000 people have actually contracted the virus.
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Coronavirus: Wuhan became the epicentre of the virus in January, 2020
The alleged mystery surrounding the actual number of cases in Wuhan, and China more generally, initially attracted criticism from ex-China editor for the BBC, Carrie Grace.
Before the release of her BBC Panorama China’s Coronavirus Cover-up broadcast in July, presenter Ms Grace explained that the authorities in Wuhan and Beijing had “sought to minimise the story, first insisting there was no reason to suspect the virus was transmitted by humans” before later claiming “the risk was low”.
Yet, she argued that doctors “didn’t agree”, and any that tried to speak out were “swiftly silenced, with some forced to sign police confessions that they had spread misinformation”.
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Ms Grace said that while Beijing is “naturally sensitive about its early handling of a global catastrophe”, its censorship measures means there is “no meaningful challenge inside China to the official version of events”.
While nations across the globe have demanded a full investigation by the World Health Organisation (WHO) into how the virus was initially found and spread, Ms Grace argued that there was “little sign of a concerted international push” for an inspection.
She added in a column for the Guardian last year: “Indeed, the US has just withdrawn funding for the WHO, alleging that the global health body served as Beijing’s puppet during the early stages of coronavirus.
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“For now, we are left hoping that China’s leadership has learned its own lessons about the need to act faster to protect its own public and the world.”
Wuhan – in Chinese province of Hubei – was among the first cities to enter lockdown, which saw residents placed indoors for 76 days from January 23.
While the CDC found the antibody rates were over four percent in Wuhan, outside the region it was only placed at around 0.44 percent.
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It said that in research carried out, only two individuals were identified to carry the antibodies from more than 12,000 tested outside of Hubei.
It added: “The survey results show that the population of our country is generally at a low level of infection, indicating that the epidemic control, with Wuhan as the main battlefield, has been successful and effectively prevented the large-scale spread of the epidemic.”
More recently, China has moved to dismiss fury over its early handling of the coronavirus amid reports a team from WHO are now set to visit the nation to carry out a review.
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And despite welcoming the researchers to the nation, experts have claimed they will unlikely be allowed to scrutinise some aspects of the outbreak due to Beijing’s concern over being blamed for the pandemic.
Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, a US think tank, said: “Even before this investigation, top officials from both sides have been very polarised in their opinions on the origins of the outbreak.
“They will have to be politically savvy and draw conclusions that are acceptable to all the major parties.”
So far there have been more than 85 million reported cases of coronavirus, with at least 1.85 million dying from the virus.