China downplayed the spread of coronavirus in February, keeping secret thousands of confirmed daily cases just as the pandemic spread rapidly across the world, newly revealed documents show.
Coronavirus test results took an average of over 23 days, and a previously undisclosed influenza outbreak wracked the future epicenter of the pandemic in December, according to classified documents from the Hubei Province Center for Disease Control and Prevention that were leaked to CNN.
China’s government has maintained that it has been transparent in its public statements about coronavirus, which was first identified in the Hubei Province city of Wuhan late last year.
The China State Council claimed in June that the government has always divulged coronavirus information in a ‘timely, open, and transparent fashion.’
But on February 10, the government reported 2,478 new coronavirus cases, while officials in Hubei had a confidential list of 5,918 new cases from that day.
From the documents it is clear that government underreported the number of deaths from COVID.
The daily confirmed virus death toll in Hubei is shown as 196 on February 17. But publicly, Hubei publicly reported that day just 93 deaths.
While the government on March 7 had officially tallied 2,986 deaths since the outset of the disease, the internal documents marked the death toll at 3,456, which counted within that figure 647 ‘clinically diagnosed’ deaths, and 126 ‘suspected’ case deaths.
The government seemed to use the category of ‘suspected’ to obfuscate the true number of coronavirus-related deaths and coronavirus cases.
Hubei officials portrayed their response to the virus as efficient, documents show that in March test results took over three weeks to come back, making it nearly impossible to capture an accurate snapshot of how COVID was spreading.
The confirmed cases were also showing a 30 to 50 percent positivity when tests came back – meaning that most tests were coming back as ‘false negatives.’