As the United States and much of the rest of the world locks down over the novel coronavirus pandemic, China appears to be cautiously opening back up.
Travel restrictions in place across most of the country are gradually being relaxed, and next week people will be allowed to leave Wuhan – where the virus was first detected late last year – for the first time in more than two months. Officials in the city have warned people not to go out too much, however, amid fears of a renewed wave of cases.
But as China appears to be turning a page on the virus, new questions are being raised about how much the numbers being reported can be trusted, and whether the worst of the outbreak has truly passed.
That was a suggestion Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying angrily refuted Thursday, saying the country “has been giving open, transparent and timely updates to the world.”
“On international public health security, we should listen to World Health Organization and experts on epidemiology and disease control rather than several politicians who are habitual liars,” she said. “In fact, just yesterday, a senior WHO official refuted unwarranted accusations on ‘China’s untransparent data’ in a press conference in Geneva.”
She accused officials in the US of trying to “shift the blame” due to the “severe situation” that country is facing.
“It is immoral and inhumane to politicize public health, which should be condemned by all in the US and beyond,” Hua added. “I hope they will lose no more time and focus instead on fighting the pandemic and saving American lives.”
It’s not only the US which is raising questions, however. Caixin, a leading Chinese business publication, previously reported that there were thousands more funeral urns delivered to Wuhan than would be accounted for by the official coronavirus death toll. However, funeral services in the city of 11 million were halted on January 25, so its plausible that urns are also used for those who died from something other than coronavirus.