China acknowledges underreporting coronavirus cases in official count

China’s health agency said it would begin including coronavirus patients without symptoms in its official tally, implicitly acknowledging that it has not been fully reporting data on the pandemic, according to reports.

The head of China’s National Health Commission Chang Jile said the government will begin reporting asymptomatic patients on Wednesday and is monitoring 1,541 who have tested positive but are showing no symptoms, the Daily Caller reported.

“From April 1, we will publish reports, outcomes and management of asymptomatic people in daily epidemic notifications, and respond to social concerns in a timely manner,” Jile said at a news conference in Wuhan, the website reported, citing state-run China Central Television.

Beijing updated its data on Wednesday to included 1,367 asymptomatic cases, of those, 130 were reported in the last day, Fortune reported.

Still unknown is how many asymptomatic infections China had but did not include in the overall count since the outbreak began in Wuhan in December, raising questions about the accuracy of the data distributed by the Communist Party, which shows 82,361 cases.

“I think there were municipalities and localities that didn’t want to fully admit the extent of the crisis,” professor Nicholas Thomas, an expert in infectious diseases and governance at the City University of Hong Kong, told Fortune.

He suggested that Beijing pressured local governments to downplay the numbers in an effort to restart the economy.

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