As the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hides the infection and death count of the coronavirus in China, researchers are trying to estimate the actual number. Yaxue Cao, an editor of the democracy promotion media China Change, estimated the total infection cases in Wuhan to be between 400,000 and 600,000, and the death toll to be between 22,000 and 30,000.
1. Death Toll
On March 23, the second largest crematorium in Wuhan, the Wuchang Funeral Home, announced that, “The funeral home will distribute 500 urns per day, and will try to distribute all of them before the Tomb Sweeping Day” (the traditional Chinese holiday to commemorate the dead, also known as Qingming), which was April 4 this year. In other words, the Wuchang Funeral Home was to distribute approximately 6,000 urns in the 12 days leading up to April 4:
500 x 12 = 6,000
The Wuchang Funeral Home has 15 cremation furnaces; each furnace would have burned 400 bodies during the 60 days. There have been anecdotal reports of some furnaces being out of order before or during this period. Suppose 8 furnaces (about 10%) were not working. The adjusted number of cremations for the remaining 76 furnaces would be:
400*76 = 30,400
According to the city’s official statistics, in 2018, the number of Wuhan’s natural deaths was 47,900, averaging 131 deaths per day in the city. Based on this rate, about 7,860 people died of causes other than coronavirus infection during the 60 days:
130*60 = 7,860
During the 60 days from January 23 to March 23, approximately 22,540 people died from the coronavirus infection:
30,400 – 7,860 = 22,540
An estimate of the death toll from December 1 to January 22 could be a few hundred or a few thousand, and we just don’t know. So the total death toll in Wuhan is in the range of 22,000 to 30,000.
2. Infection Count
a) Using Wuhan’s Official Death Rate:
Caixin’s Domestic Observation of Covid-19 (境内疫情观察) updates, among other data, the death rate of cities in Hubei Province. As of March 23, the death rate was 5 percent in Wuhan based on statistics posted by the National Health Commission and the local health commissions. If this rate is correct, using the estimated death toll of 22,000 to 30,000, the likely number of confirmed cases would fall between 440,000 to 600,000.
b) Inferring from the infection rate of foreign nationals pulled out of Wuhan:
In early February when countries, such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Germany, began to pull their nationals out of Wuhan, netizens noted the percentage of infections of each group, and estimated how many people had been infected in Wuhan using the average infection rate of these groups.
Japan withdrew 565 nationals with 8 confirmed cases and the infection rate was about 1.42 percent; South Korea withdrew 368 nationals with 5 confirmed cases, with an infection rate of about 1.36 percent; Singapore withdrew 92 nationals with 1 confirmed cases, an infection rate of about 1.08 percent; and Germany withdrew 124 nationals with 2 confirmed cases, an infection rate of about 1.61 percent. The average infection rate among these four groups is 1.37 percent.
Domestically, of the 5,239 people who returned from Wuhan to Leqing, Wenzhou City (温州乐清市), there were 69 confirmed cases, the infection rate was 1.32 percent.
The average infection rate, based on these 5 groups, is 1.358 percent. Given the city’s population of 15 million:
15,000,000*1.358% = 203,700
Now factor in the R0, that is, the average number of people who will catch the disease from a single infected person.
Over the week of January 20, according to an article in The Atlantic published on January 28, “at least six teams of researchers, along with the World Health Organization, have published estimates of R0 for the new coronavirus. All these groups used different methods, but their results have been mostly consistent, with estimates hovering between 2 and 3. WHO was a little more conservative than the others, with estimates of 1.4 to 2.5. One Chinese team is a clear outlier, with estimates of 3.3 to 5.5. A British-led group initially published a high average value of 3.8 last week before revising it downward to 2.5 as new data emerged.”
These R0 estimates were specific to Wuhan, and R0 2-3 seems to correspond pretty well with the estimates using China’s official death rate in Wuhan: – between 203,700*2 and 203,700*3, or between 407,400 and 611,100.
Related postings on Chinascope:
- Infection Count: China’s Real Count Could Be 50 Times Bigger
- Death Count: Wuhan Distributed an Estimate of over 40,000 Urns
- Death Count: Wuhan Has Unusually High Level of Sulfur Dioxide Gas
- Death Count: Funeral Home Interviews Suggested 500 Corpses Incinerated in Wuhan per Day
- Death Count: Wuhan Incinerated 122 Corpses Per Day Before Coronavirus Outbreak
Source: China Change, April 12, 2020