The Chinese city of Wuhan, which is the epicenter where the coronavirus pandemic first emerged, on Friday admitted missteps in tallying its death toll, and raised the count by 50%.

The move comes as China is facing major global criticism for its handling of the pandemic and increased skepticism about how much information it has really shared with the international community.

On Friday, Wuhan’s epidemic control headquarters said that it had added 1,290 deaths to the tally, bringing the total number of deaths in the city to 3,869. But the city government only added 325 cases, raising the city’s total number of infections to 50,333.

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The change also pushes the death toll in the country of 1.4 billion people up by nearly 39% to 4,632.

Wuhan cited several reasons for the missed cases, including the fact that the city’s medical staff were overwhelmed in the early days as infections climbed, leading to “late reporting, omissions or mis-reporting”.

Washington confirmed it is exploring the possibility that the virus was accidentally released from a Chinese lab, after evidence emerged that the wet market, which China blamed for the spread of the virus did not sell bats, and the first patient, as well as multiple other early cases, did not have any connection to the market.

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French President Emmanuel Macron also questioned China’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, saying it would be “naive” to think China had handled the pandemic well.

Earlier this week, documents leaked to the media showed that after Chinese officials secretly determined they were likely facing a pandemic, they warned the public several days later. During that time, the city of Wuhan hosted a mass banquet for tens of thousands of people.

The United Kingdom also said it will review its relationship with China once the pandemic has ended. Earlier, UK scientists warned that China probably downplayed its number of cases of the virus “by a factor of 15 to 40 times”. UK intelligence officials said that China should answer for hiding crucial information about the outbreak from the rest of the world.

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Authorities in Wuhan initially tried to cover up the outbreak, punishing doctors who had raised the alarm online in December. They also imposed restrictions on the publication of academic research on the origins of the coronavirus.


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