Chinese officials have allegedly deleted COVID-19 mortality data in a wealthy area of the country after it revealed a significant surge in deaths following the sudden relaxation of strict Covid lockdown rules, according to reports.
The data reportedly showed a 73% increase in cremations in the coastal Zhejiang province during the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same period in previous years.
The number of recorded cremations, totaling 171,000, was significantly higher than the reported deaths of 99,000 and 91,000 in the first quarters of 2022 and 2021, respectively.
This spike in deaths occurred after the Chinese government announced the overhaul of its COVID-19 restrictions late last year, and despite the increased fatalities, no COVID-19 deaths were officially recorded.
These revelations have intensified existing accusations that China has been suppressing information about the pandemic and underrepresenting the true number of deaths.
When China’s lengthy lockdown was eased, hospitals quickly filled with Covid patients, but the authorities have failed to provide detailed and accurate figures on the extent of the crisis.
Disturbingly, China also chose not to release data on the number of cremation services held in the fourth quarter of 2022, effectively withholding crucial information that has been regularly published since 2007.
Access to such data is essential for researchers to assess the spread of the virus within the population.
China Accused of Withholding Crucial COVID-19 Data
Willy Lam, a senior fellow at think-tank The Jamestown Foundation, emphasized that the data from Zhejiang is just a glimpse into the larger picture and accused China of covering up its mishandling of the pandemic.
Lam stated that releasing all the death data would be valuable for researchers but could potentially undermine the standing of President Xi Jinping’s administration and expose their failures in lifting the zero-Covid controls.
The alleged concealment of data aligns with earlier accusations that Beijing failed to inform international health bodies promptly about the rapidly escalating virus threat.
Dr. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the medical journal The Lancet, addressed the UK government’s Covid Inquiry, stating that the initial response from local government officials in Wuhan was to suppress information rather than report it.
Dr. Horton called for stronger international regulation for laboratories working with highly dangerous microbes, emphasizing the need for transparency and timely information sharing.
These reports highlight concerns about China’s handling of Covid-related data and its impact on understanding the true scope of the pandemic. The deliberate deletion and withholding of crucial information undermine trust and hinder efforts to combat the virus globally.