As a new form of viral pneumonia has begun spreading across China, different government authorities are reporting different numbers of confirmed cases—raising citizens’ suspicions that they are not being truthful.
China’s cabinet-like State Council held a press conference on Jan. 22 morning, with top officials from the country’s National Health Commission and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention answering reporters’ questions.
Li Bin, deputy director of the National Health Commission, gave the latest official data at the time, saying that in total, 440 people in China have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. They are from 13 different provinces.
But state broadcaster CCTV reported that 444 cases were confirmed in Hubei Province alone during an 8 p.m. news segment on Jan. 22.
Chinese media Caixin also reported on Jan. 22 that Zhan Caihong, mayor of Qichun county in Hubei province said during a county level conference that by Jan. 19, there were 109 confirmed cases in Huanggang city—the municipality that Qichun belongs to.
But according to the CCTV broadcast, there were only 12 diagnosed cases from Huanggang.
Huanggang is about a one-hour drive from Wuhan city. Many people commute to Wuhan for work.
As authorities have already confirmed that the virus can be transmitted human-to-human, many citizens are worried about contracting the illness.
On Jan. 21, The Epoch Times received a tip from an anonymous reader in Yichang city, Hubei province, about a four-hour drive from Wuhan. She said the Yichang government has designated the city’s Third Hospital as the central treatment center for the new disease, and that at least one patient there has been diagnosed with the new coronavirus.
She said that all patients with pneumonia-like symptoms in the city have been transferred to the Third Hospital, and that the facility is heavily guarded by police.
On Jan. 21, the Wuhan mayor Zhou Xiansheng confirmed that 1 doctor and 13 nurses contracted the coronavirus from treating one patient.
Zhou told CCTV that the patient was infected with the virus before he visited the neurosurgery department of the Wuhan Union Hospital. After performing an operation on this patient, the involved doctor and nurses from the neurosurgery department all fell sick one by one.
The patient is referred to as a super-spreader, patients who are more infectious than others who have the same disease.
But authorities denied that there could be such patients. On Jan. 22, director of the CDC Gao Fu said at the Jan. 22 press conference: “We didn’t see any evidence that there’s a super-spreader.”
At the press conference, government officials refused to give updates on the number of medical staff who contracted the virus from patients.
Some researchers have estimated that the true number of infections in China could be much higher than authorities are reporting.
Hong Kong University released their statistical projection on Jan. 22 that Wuhan could potentially have 1,343 cases, with another 359 cases in other mainland cities.
On Jan. 22, state-run media confirmed that Xu Dapeng, a longtime environmental activist, passed away due to a lung infection. Nine days ago, Xu’s wife died from the same disease.
Some Wuhan government employees claimed online that both Xu and his wife died of the new coronavirus, but the hospital insisted that they died of a severe lung disease. The hospital also refused to run diagnostic tests for the coronavirus.
A day prior, The Guardian reported that a 65-year-old woman in Wuhan died of the new viral disease, but that the government did not count her into the official number of deaths.