China raises Wuhan coronavirus death toll by 50%

China on Friday raised Wuhan coronavirus death toll by 50% amid accusations that the government had concealed the extent of the epidemic, news wires reported. Officials placed the new tally at 3,869 deaths from the coronavirus in the central Chinese city, an increase of 1,290 from the previous figure. The number of cumulative confirmed infections in the city was also revised upward to 50,333, an increase of 325.

The move appeared to be a response to growing questions about the accuracy of China’s official numbers and calls to hold the country responsible for a global health crisis that has killed more than 142,000 people and caused a worldwide economic slowdown. China has been criticised as having initially mismanaged and concealed the extent of the epidemic, though it ultimately swung into action and seemingly tamed the virus.

Recently, as other countries have grappled with their own outbreaks, Chinese officials have come under even greater pressure to explain how exactly the epidemic unfolded in Wuhan. “They are on the defensive, clearly,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political science professor at Hong Kong Baptist University and an expert on Chinese politics. “It’s an uphill battle now for China to improve its image.”

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