China State Media Says Coronavirus Death Toll Cover-up Accusations Are 'Nonsense'

Chinese state media has hit out at suggestions that Beijing is covering up the true scale of its coronavirus outbreak, as the country celebrates its apparent success and pivots towards assisting other nations stricken by the pandemic.

China has reported a stunning turnaround in its coronavirus fight, greatly slowing new infections and subsequently being able to lift the tight restrictions that appear to have largely defeated the virus.

But the international community remains skeptical of China's success, and leaders—including President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—have suggested that Beijing is not being entirely transparent about the number of people infected and the number who died.

Reports have cited the number of cremations in the central Chinese city of Wuhan—the origin of the outbreak which was quarantined for weeks—as evidence that the official Chinese toll of 82,240 infections and 3,309 deaths is too low.

Chinese state media, now positioning the country as the selfless leader of the coronavirus battle, angrily rejected such theories in multiple editorials published on Monday. "China must resolutely strike back at the attackers' faulty logic and factual defects," the state-backed Global Times argued.

Global Times often carriers the more nationalistic and belligerent sentiments from within the ruling Chinese Communist Party. The editorial said that Western "absurdities" alleging a cover-up "will be crushed by facts."

Another Global Times editorial carried by the People's Daily—the official newspaper of the CCP—fell back on the argument that Western nations are trying to scapegoat China to distract from their own failings in handling coronavirus, especially President Donald Trump's administration.

The newspaper acknowledged that the Chinese system "has deficiencies" but that "it serves the people"—a veiled attack on Western nations who have, at least on the surface, been less successful in stemming the spread of the pandemic.

Global Times said the accusations of a cover-up are "utter nonsense" stemming from an "extremely biased concept toward China."

"Such nonsense also stems from these people's deep sense of anxiety," the newspaper added. "Through the virus battle, the superiority of China's domestic governance has been fully displayed, and through China's timely assistance to others, the country's international influence has been greatly enhanced."

China has been accused of allowing or encouraging disinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic, some as an effort to malign its Western rivals. The U.S. was outraged, for example, when a foreign ministry spokesperson claimed without evidence that the Wuhan outbreak may have been caused by the U.S. Army.

Beijing was also condemned for its initial response to the emergence of the virus. Officials hid key information from the World Health Organization and other nations, while silencing medical whistleblowers who tried to warn the scientific community.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.
China, coronavirus, Wuhan, Hubei, cover-up, state media
A medical worker who volunteered in Wuhan to help combat the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak is pictured on a bus to return home in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on March 31, 2020. NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images/Getty

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