Government removes China from its official coronavirus death toll comparison list amid concerns over the accuracy of its figures
- China currently claims to have had 83,901 cases of Covid-19, and 4,636 deaths
- Hong Kong University suggests the cases could be as high as 232,000
- The government has reportedly set up a China Research Group
- The group aims to ‘promote debate and fresh thinking’ on UK and China relations
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Downing Street has removed China from the list of other countries it uses to compare the spread of the coronavirus to due to questions over the accuracy of China’s data.
Until Thursday, ministers had been showing China on charts detailing cases and deaths in other countries in the government’s daily press conference, comparing them to those in the UK. China’s figures have since disappeared.
Before being removed, China was one one of the nine nations included in a ‘global death comparison’ published by the government, with figures suggesting that China’s figures were lower than that of other countries, such as the U.S., Italy and Spain.
Currently, the country’s official death toll stands at 4,636 from the coronavirus and has seen 83,901 people test positive for the virus.
Downing Street has removed China’s coronavirus figures that it uses in its international comparisons during its daily news conferences
However, one study by experts at Hong Kong University suggests that the numbers in the country where the virus is thought to have originated are much higher.
The experts claim that the number of positive tests could have had as many as 232,000 in the first wave of the virus, which would be four times its official figures.
According to The Times, China only reported 12 new cases of the virus yesterday, 11 of which were imported from abroad, with no new deaths. In contrast, the UK today announced 4,913 new cases of the coronavirus, with 813 deaths.
The government has reportedly set up a China Research Group to ‘promote debate and fresh thinking’ over the relationship Britain has with China, which will have eight permanent parliamentary members and additional conservative supporters.
Some Conservative MPs fear that inaccurate figures could hinder the UK’s response to the coronavirus.
In the graph shared on Friday (pictured), China had been removed from the graph that showed the number of deaths in different countries around the world from the coronavirus
Conservative chairman of the foreign affairs select committee and founder of the research group, Tom Tugendhat, said: ‘This data is used to judge the effectiveness of our own response, whether good or bad.
‘It’s important we are comparing like with like, otherwise our own responses could be distorted leading to more deaths in the UK, he said. ‘Clearly No 10 believes the same as the rest of the world — that China’s data is unreliable and possibly false.’
The research group is said to be modeled on the European Research Group, the pro-Brexit group that scrutinised Thersea May’s Brexit deal that never was, and will take a similar approach to the country’s relationship with China.
‘There’s no point taking back control from Brussels and handing it to Beijing,’ Tugendhat said.
Conservative chairman of the foreign affairs select committee and founder of the research group, Tom Tugendhat, has said ‘There’s no point taking back control from Brussels and handing it to Beijing’
Yesterday, China rejected calls for an independent international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, with experts arguing that information about how it started and spread could help other countries in their fight against the disease.
Chen Wen, one of China’s top diplomat told the BBC that the demands were politically motivated and an attempt to distract China from its own fight against the pandemic.