COVID-19: China deletes mortality data that could've revealed heavy death toll, says report
Fresh allegations have been levelled against China and its intention of handling coronavirus (COVID-19) data. In the report by the Financial Times, it has been mentioned that one of the most populous provinces in the nation has deleted mortality data that indicated the high death toll caused by Beijing's relaxation of Covid regulations at the end of last year.
In the report published on Tuesday (July 18), FT referred to the statistics by Zhejiang province on Thursday, which showed the number of cremations in the wealthy coastal region during the first quarter of the year jumped 73 per cent from a year earlier to 171,000.
The amount was much higher than the 99,000 and 91,000 deaths reported in the same time period in 2022 and 2021, respectively. Chinese social media was abuzz after Zhejiang had taken the numbers offline by Monday.
Ever since the start of the Covid, experts have called out Beijing for its dubious statistics of the pandemic. The first known case was reported in China towards the end of 2019, and when it started to spread, it was declared a public health emergency of international concern in January 2020.
Covid caused havoc on mankind, killing millions of people. The world, to some extent, remained sceptical about the data coming from China as concerns were raised over the transparency and accuracy of information about Covid'a origin, number of deaths, and more.
China and its Covid data
Since the start, China relied on strict Covid measures to curb the spread of the deadly virus. When it revised its pandemic policy last year in December, hospitals and crematoria were reportedly flooded with Covid patients, but Chinese officials have not disclosed accurate statistics that would allow experts to properly estimate the impact of the virus's spread across the population.
The World Health Organization (WHO) even accused China of underrepresenting the severity of its coronavirus outbreak and the real number of deaths. When the Covid rules were relaxed, Chinese health officials vowed to study and make public excess death data. They dismissed concerns of under-reporting.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) in June revealed that China has not released the number of cremations held last winter in a quarterly report. Beijing withheld a key indicator of the pandemic death toll for a period of time when the nation faced the largest Covid wave.
But even months after that promise, the nation has not released any excess death data, besides local-level cremation data, which is the only publicly available statistic for tracking the country's death toll. But June's report by SCMP indicates that even that data is problematic.