WHO: others will revise virus death tolls like China

File Photo
File Photo

The World Health Organization has said that many countries would likely follow China in revising up their death tolls once they start getting the coronavirus crisis under control.

Wuhan, the COVID-19 epicentre, admitted missteps in tallyingits death toll, abruptly raising the city's count by 50 percent — followinggrowing world doubts about Chinese transparency over the outbreak.

The WHO said on Friday Wuhan had been overwhelmed by thevirus, which emerged in the city in December, and the authorities had been tooswamped to ensure every death and infection was properly recorded.

Authorities in Wuhan initially tried to cover up theoutbreak, punishing doctors who had raised the alarm online, and there havebeen questions about the government's recording of infections as it repeatedlychanged its counting criteria at the peak of the crisis.

"This is something that is a challenge in an ongoingoutbreak: to identify all of your cases and all of your deaths," Maria vanKerkhove, the WHO's COVID-19 technical lead, told a virtual press conference inGeneva.

"I would anticipate that many countries are going to bein a similar situation where they will have to go back and review records andlook to see: did we capture all of them?" She said the Wuhan authoritieshad now reviewed their databases and cross-checked for discrepancies.

Wuhan added 1,290 deaths to its toll, raising the total to3,869, and added a further 325 cases, bringing the number of infections to50,333.

Van Kerkhove said that because Wuhan's healthcare system wasswamped, some patients died at home; others were in makeshift facilities; andthat medics, focused on treating patients, therefore did not do the paperworkon time.

Michael Ryan, the WHO's emergencies director, added:"All countries will face this".Buthe urged nations to produce precise data as early as possible, "becausethat keeps us on top of what the impact is, and allows us to project forward ina much more accurate way."  

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