China reported zero coronavirus deaths Tuesday, a fact that is bound to raise doubts over the accuracy of the statistics.
For the first time since China started publishing daily coronavirus figures in January, it reported zero new coronavirus deaths on Tuesday. The number of confirmed cases fell to 32 from Monday’s figure of 39, per China’s National Health Commission.
Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country where the respiratory illness initially appeared now stands at 81,740.
Over 3,300 people have died from the novel coronavirus disease so far. At the same time, more than 77,000 are reported to have recovered.
The reduced number of deaths from the country that the world’s pandemic epicenter two weeks ago is remarkable. At the moment, China is the sixth-highest country with coronavirus cases, surpassed by the U.S., Spain, Italy, Germany, and France within the last two weeks.
On confirmed deaths, the world’s most populous country is in the seventh position behind Italy, Spain, the U.S., France, the U.K., and Iran. The latter two have more deaths than China despite recording a lower number of cases.
The zero number of deaths recorded Tuesday is bound to re-ignite debate on whether the country’s figures can be trusted.
Less than a week ago, the U.S. intelligence community reportedly concluded that China had deliberately underreported the number of coronavirus deaths and cases in the country.
During a coronavirus briefing earlier this month President Donald Trump said China’s numbers appeared to be :
[A] little bit on the light side, and I’m being nice when I say that.
Iran has also raised doubts about the integrity of China’s coronavirus figures.
Over the weekend, Iranian health ministry spokesperson Kianush Jahanpur suggested the Asian country had misled the world. Said Jahanpur:
It seems statistics from China [were] a bitter joke, because many in the world thought this is just like influenza, with fewer deaths. This [impression] were based on reports from China and now it seems China made a bitter joke with the rest of the world.
There have also been unproven claims of the number of deaths from fringe figures. In February, for instance, China’s exiled billionaire Guo Wengui claimed that over 1,200 bodies of coronavirus victims were burned every day. At the time, Wengui suggested the respiratory illness had claimed over 50,000 lives. Official statistics then put the number of deaths at 800.
China’s behavior reinforces doubts about the figures during the early days of the disease’s discovery. The Mayor of Wuhan city, Zhou Xianwang, in January, hinted that before releasing delicate data, Beijing had to give approval.
Still, China has gone to great lengths to counter the narrative that it has been fudging coronavirus figures. CCTV, China’s state broadcaster, recently quoted President Xi Jinping, maintaining that the world’s second-largest economy had been “transparent and responsible” in sharing information related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Expect even more skepticism after the Asian country recorded zero COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday.