Forum: Beware of making assumptions about Covid-19 deaths in China

News originating from leaked and purportedly secret intelligence reports which media outlets have been running is difficult to verify, and yet when quoted can become accepted as fact.

There has been a news report quoting US intelligence about China concealing the number of its Covid-19 deaths. While one might wonder about the true facts regarding Covid-19 deaths in China, we should be careful not to make assumptions.

That report said "stacks of thousands of urns outside funeral homes in Hubei province have driven public doubt in Beijing's reporting". This was seen as evidence of a larger number of deaths than reported.

Should this alone raise suspicion? Fortunately, we can do a simple check with arithmetic.

The normal annual death rate prior to Covid-19 for a city of 11 million such as Wuhan should be around five to 10 per thousand.

The number of deaths in the city during its two months under lockdown not attributable to Covid-19 can hence be expected to be around 9,000 to 18,000.

It should therefore not be surprising that there were large stacks of urns outside funeral homes, especially after restrictions in Wuhan were lifted.

The large number of urns may come as a surprise to some, but that fact alone does not say anything about the Covid-19 deaths in Wuhan.

Kan Kin Mun