UK government removes China from its official coronavirus death toll comparison

Date Added: April 26, 2020 11:34:32 AM
Author: Sutra Web Directory
Category: News & References

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UK government REMOVES China from its official coronavirus death toll comparison amid global outrage at Beijing's 'cover-up' and disbelief that the country has only had 4,636 deaths

Downing Street has removed China from the list of other countries it uses to compare the spread of the coronavirus - in a snub to Beijing amid widespread anger at the nation's apparent cover-up of the seriousness of its coronavirus outbreak. 

It is another diplomatic attack on China in the wake of Donald Trump's accusations that the World Health Organisation (WHO) colluded with Beijing to downplay its coronavirus outbreak, and global disbelief over China's claim to have only 4,636 dead from the virus. 

The people of Wuhan believe  the death toll in their city that was the epicentre of the outbreak is 42,000 - not the 3,182 claimed by China. 

In America, the Trump administration is ramping up its attacks on Beijing - blaming President Xi's government for letting COVID-19 spread across the globe unchecked while the Communist regime saved face. 

Trump is backed by large numbers of Republican politicians amid claims from the US intelligence community that the virus escaped from a lab near Wuhan in an accident involving an intern.

Trump has suspended $500million in US funding for the WHO after claiming it had 'accelerated' the deadly contagion because chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus initially swallowed China's claims that coronavirus was not transmissible between humans.  

There is also global outrage at Chinese officials for waiting six days to warn the public after becoming aware that a viral outbreak was causing a rash of deadly pneumonia cases in Wuhan. 

While Beijing waited, residents in Wuhan hosted a mass banquet for tens of thousands of people, and millions began traveling for Lunar New Year celebrations.

President Xi Jinping warned the public on the seventh day after top Communist Party leaders learned of the outbreak, January 20.

In the meantime, the Chinese government arrested or silenced doctors and citizens in Wuhan who tried to speak out about the disturbing new outbreak.

Even the mayor of Wuhan suggested in an interview with Chinese state television that Communist Party leadership prohibited him from warning the public until January 20.

By the time Xi issued the public warning, more than 3,000 people had been infected during almost a week of public silence, according to internal documents and expert estimates based on retrospective infection data.

The delay from January 14 to January 20 by the first country to face the new coronavirus came at a critical time - the beginning of the outbreak.  

Until Thursday, ministers had been showing China on charts detailing cases and deaths in other countries in the government's daily press conference, comparing them to those in the UK. China's figures have since disappeared.

Before being removed, China was one one of the nine nations included in a 'global death comparison' published by the government, with figures suggesting that China's figures were lower than that of other countries, such as the U.S., Italy and Spain.

Currently, the country's official death toll stands at 4,636 from the coronavirus and has seen 83,901 people test positive for the virus.

However, one study by experts at Hong Kong University suggests that the numbers in the country where the virus is thought to have originated are much higher. 

China revised the death toll in coronavirus ground-zero Wuhan, revealing that nearly 4,000 people died from the illness in the area.

In a social media post, the city government added 1,290 deaths to the tally in Wuhan, bringing the toll to 3,869.

Officials said many fatal cases were 'mistakenly reported' or missed entirely in an admission that comes amid growing global doubts about Chinese transparency.

The global pandemic originally emerged in Wuhan. The city went on to suffer the vast majority of China's fatalities from Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The change also pushes the nationwide death toll up by nearly 39 percent to 4,632, based on official national data released earlier on Friday.

Numbers of total cases in the city of 11 million were also raised by 325 to 50,333, accounting for about two-thirds of China's total 82,367 announced cases. 

The experts claim there could have been as many as 232,000 positive tests in the first wave of the virus, which would be four times its official figures. 

World leaders including Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron have hinted their disapproval of Chinese tactics of misinformation amid the ongoing pandemic.

Germany's chancellor urged Beijing to be transparent about the origin and initial transmission of the virus.

'I believe the more transparent China is about the origin story of the virus, the better it is for everyone in the world in order to learn from it,' she said.

With 4,648 deaths, Germany has suffered almost the exact same number of casualties as China - 4,636 - but has confirmed almost 62,000 more infections.

And French President Macron has said there are 'things that we don't know about' in China's handling of the coronavirus crisis, joining a growing chorus of doubts about the accuracy of China's claims. 

Macron said in an interview published in the Financial Times that China's figures could not be compared to those in free countries.

'Given these differences, the choices made and what China is today, which I respect, let's not be so naive as to say it's been much better at handling this,' he said.

'We don't know. There are clearly things that have happened that we don't know about.'

China's official figures paint a picture of astonishing success in slowing the outbreak, but there has been widespread scepticism about their accuracy.

Macron said there could be no comparison between countries where the truth was suppressed and nations where information flowed freely and citizens could criticise their governments. 

China only reported 12 new cases of the virus yesterday, 11 of which were imported from abroad, with no new deaths. In contrast, the UK today announced 4,913 new cases of the coronavirus, with 813 deaths. 

The Government has set up a China Research Group to 'promote debate and fresh thinking' over the relationship Britain has with China, which will have eight permanent parliamentary members and additional conservative supporters.

Some Conservative MPs fear inaccurate figures could hinder the UK's response to the coronavirus. 

Conservative chairman of the foreign affairs select committee and founder of the research group, Tom Tugendhat, said: 'This data is used to judge the effectiveness of our own response, whether good or bad. 

'It's important we are comparing like with like, otherwise our own responses could be distorted leading to more deaths in the UK, he said. 'Clearly No 10 believes the same as the rest of the world — that China's data is unreliable and possibly false.' 

The research group is said to be modelled on the European Research Group, the pro-Brexit group that scrutinised Thersea May's Brexit deal that never was, and will take a similar approach to the country's relationship with China.

'There's no point taking back control from Brussels and handing it to Beijing,' Tugendhat said.

Yesterday, China rejected calls for an independent international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, with experts arguing that information about how it started and spread could help other countries in their fight against the disease.

Chen Wen, one of China's top diplomat told the BBC that the demands were politically motivated and an attempt to distract China from its own fight against the pandemic.  

Dr Tedros, elected to lead the World Health Organisation in 2017, is facing heavy criticism, especially for praise he heaped on China's communist party for its response - hailing the regime's 'commitment to transparency' and saying the speed with which it detected the virus was 'beyond words'.  

That has led to allegations - mostly recently made by Donald Trump - that the WHO is 'China-centric', a position that the US President has promised to 'look into'.

Trump has threatened to suspend US funding to the WHO until an investigation has been carried out, while suggesting that they withheld information on the virus. 

It is not the first time that Dr Tedros has been accused of cosying up to China. Shortly after his election victory in 2017, it was alleged that Chinese diplomats had been heavily involved in lobbying for him.

UN records also show that Chinese contributions to both Ethiopia's aid budget and the WHO have substantially increased during times when he was in top leadership positions. 

Shortly after his election to the WHO, a report in The Times said: 'Chinese diplomats had campaigned hard for the Ethiopian, using Beijing’s financial clout and opaque aid budget to build support for him among developing countries.'

Dr Tedros - who is married and has five children - was born in 1965 in Asmara, which was part of Ethiopia at the time but is now in Eritrea. 

As a child he saw his younger brother die to an infection, which he believes was measles, which he later said spurred his determination to work on health and health policy.

He graduated from university in Ethiopia in 1986 with a degree in biology and went to work as a health official in the regime of Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, while the country was ruled by the Derg military junta.

According to the BBC, Dr Tedros then joined the hard-left TPLF - which started life as a Communist party and played a major role in overthrowing Mariam in 1991. It later became part of the EPRDF, a coalition of left-wing parties that ruled Ethiopia until last year. 

Following his election to the WHO, Dr Tedros vowed to reform the organisation by placing an emphasis on universal healthcare at its centre while also increasing funding.

Further UN funding records show that, during his tenure, assessed contributions to the WHO by China have also risen significantly - from roughly $23million in 2016 to $38million in 2019.

China has also committed to a further $57million in funding in 2020, though has yet to pay the balance.

Meanwhile funding from other major world economies - including the US, Russia, Japan and Germany - has remained largely flat or even fallen over the same period. 

Dr Tedros visited Beijing himself back in January and spoke with President Xi about the country's response, returning to give a speech that praised the regime's transparency, the speed of its response, and credited it with saving lives both at home and overseas.

That is despite the fact that medics from Taiwan - which are not represented at the WHO since China claims it as part of its country - claimed to have raised concerns about the response as far back as December 2019.

Medics told the Financial Times that they had anecdotal evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus, something China was denying at the time and a key factor in turning the disease into a global pandemic.

They claim this was reported to the WHO on December 31, but not shared with other countries. China itself did not report human-to-human transmission until almost a month later - January 20 - by which time the disease had began spreading throughout the country and across the world.

A petition calling for Dr Tedros's resignation which began in Taiwan has now topped 750,000 signatures. 

It comes after a leading Russian microbiologist claimed the coronavirus was the result of Wuhan scientists doing 'absolutely crazy things' in their laboratory.

World renowned expert Professor Petr Chumakov claimed their aim was to study the pathogenicity of the virus and not 'with malicious intent' to deliberately create a manmade killer.

Professor Chumakov, chief researcher at the Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology in Moscow, said: 'In China, scientists at the Wuhan Laboratory have been actively involved in the development of various coronavirus variants for over ten years.

'Moreover, they did this, supposedly not with the aim of creating pathogenic variants, but to study their pathogenicity. 

'They did absolutely crazy things, in my opinion.

'For example, inserts in the genome, which gave the virus the ability to infect human cells.

'Now all this has been analysed.

'The picture of the possible creation of the current coronavirus is slowly emerging.'

He told Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper: 'There are several inserts, that is, substitutions of the natural sequence of the genome, which gave it special properties.

'It is interesting that the Chinese and Americans who worked with them published all their works in the open (scientific) press. 

'I even wonder why this background comes to people very slowly.

'I think that an investigation will nevertheless be initiated, as a result of which new rules will be developed that regulate the work with the genomes of such dangerous viruses.

'It's too early to blame anyone.'

He said the Chinese scientists created 'variants of the virus … without malicious intent' possibly aiming for an HIV vaccine. 

Professor Chumakov is also connected to Russia's Federal Research Centre for Research and Development of Immunobiological Preparations.

Vladimir Putin's spokesman warned this week against allegations that coronavirus was manmade.

'In the situation where there is not enough information that has been supported and checked by science ... we think it is unacceptable, impossible, to groundlessly accuse anyone,' said Dmitry Peskov. 

Earlier Veronika Skvortsova, head of Russia's Federal Medical-Biological Agency (FMBA) and Putin's ex-health minister, was asked if the pandemic virus could be manmade.

'This question is not that easy. It demands a very thorough study,' she said on Russia's Channel One.

'None of the versions can be ruled out.'

She said: 'We can see that a fairly large number of fragments distinguishes this virus from its very close relative, SARS.

'They are approximately 94 per cent similar, the rest is different…

'I think that we must conduct a very serious research.'

~ Via Mail Online