Death rate in Wuhan climbs to 4.9%

Chinese official admits death rate is 4.9% but cannot reveal true number of deaths


TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In a rare admission of the severity of the situation on the ground, a health official on Wednesday (Feb. 5) announced the mortality rate in Wuhan has reached 4.9 percent, more than twice the figure cited by the Chinese government.

The Deputy Director-General of Medical Administration Bureau of National Health and Family Planning Commission of the PRC, Jiao Yahui, said on Wednesday that due to the lack of medical resources, the mortality rate in Wuhan has reached 4.9 percent. Meanwhile, the death rate for China as a whole is said to have remained at a steady 2.1 percent.

However, Jiao quickly contradicted her own statement about the mortality rate when she said that the number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan has exceeded 20,000 and that there had been 425 deaths, with 414 of the dead concentrated in Hubei Province, accounting for 97 percent of the total, reported the Broadcasting Corporation of China. She then pointed out this is a mortality rate of 2.1 percent, inadvertently revealing the number of deaths must have been significantly underestimated.

Again, contradicting the numbers and the official government-dictated 2.1 percent mortality rate, she indicated the death rate in Hubei Province is 3.1 percent. She then added that Wuhan had the highest mortality rate in the province at 4.9 percent and claimed the rate of death in the rest of the province had dropped by 0.16 percent.

According to Jiao, the reason for the significantly higher mortality rate in Wuhan is that in the early stages, severe cases were usually admitted to three designated hospitals in Wuhan. However, there were only 110 beds for intensive care, and other patients with serious conditions had to be scattered among more than 20 other medical institutions.

Since these facilities were not equipped to handle serious cases, this led to a high mortality rate. Jiao stressed that the vast majority of patients with the novel coronavirus experienced only mild symptoms and called on people not to panic or be afraid.

She claimed there are many cases in other provinces but the mortality rate is quite low. She said the government is still confident the vast majority of these cases are minor and that there is therefore no need to panic.

As early as January, netizens started to notice that government death tolls have routinely maintained an exact percentile for days on end. Many noticed that in the early days of reporting, the government put the death rate at 3.1 percent.

Jan. 22: 17 deaths / 542 infections = 3.1 percent
Jan. 23: 26 deaths / 830 infections = 3.1 percent
Jan. 24: 41 deaths / 1,287 infections = 3.1 percent

By the end of the month, the government had apparently decided to set the new official mortality rate at 2.1 percent. As can be seen in the image below, the mortality rate was kept at precisely 2.1 percent, regardless of the numbers from Jan. 30 to Feb. 3:

(Internet image)

The mortality rates for the numbers briefly shown on Tencent are much higher. The death rate for Jan. 26 was 2,577 deaths out of 15,701 infections, or 16 percent.

The death rate for the Feb. 1 post was 24,589 deaths out of 154,023 infections, which also comes out to 16 percent. The death rates briefly shown are clearly vastly higher than the official percentages and substantially higher than SARS at 9.6 percent, but lower than MERS at 34.5 percent.

As for the most recent official figures, Beijing on Friday (Feb. 7) announced 31,161 confirmed infections and 636 deaths, which translates to a mortality rate of 2 percent.