A SHOCKING study has revealed up to half a million people in the Chinese city where coronavirus emerged may have been infected – ten times the official number of confirmed cases.
According to research from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the infection rate in Wuhan – the original epicentre of the virus – was also much higher than in surrounding cities.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
A sample of 34,000 people from Wuhan’s general population were used for the study, and other Hubei province cities, as well as the cities of Beijing and Shanghai and the provinces of Guangdong, Jiangsu, Sichuan and Liaoning to estimate Covid rates.
Researchers tested for antibodies in blood serum samples and found a prevalence rate of 4.43 per cent for Covid among those living in Wuhan.
With a population of approximately 11 million people, that works out at an infection rate of around 490,000 – almost ten times higher than official confirmed numbers, which stands at 50,340.
According to CDC’s study, antibody rates were much lower in other cities, standing at just 0.44 per cent in Hubei, and only two cases of positive antibodies detected among more than 12,000 people in six provinces outside Hubei.
A statement from the CDC said: “The survey results show that the population of our country is generally at a low level of infection, indicating that the epidemic control with Wuhan as the main battlefield has been successful and effectively prevented the large-scale spread of the epidemic.”
In January, the city was sealed off from the rest of China in one of the world’s first, and strictest, lockdowns for 76 days, where people were discouraged from leaving their homes except for when buying groceries and face masks were mandatory.
But just this month, startling news images showed Wuhan bursting with life after apparently wiping out the disease, while many western countries are still enforcing strict lockdowns as the virus sweeps through their elderly and vulnerable
The pictures showed masked people crammed together at a job fair in Wuhan – not having to adhere to social distancing rules.
Other images showed shoppers at a food market – buying fresh produce including fish, eggs and vegetables.
The study’s results come as ten areas of Beijing’s Shunyi district were sealed off on Tuesday – the first lockdown in China’s capital since the last outbreak in summer.
Measures have been put in place after health officials recorded seven native cases in the suburban district, with a mass testing campaign launched, according to the Mail.
Since the spike in cases began in Beijing on December 18, 14 local infections have been recorded, as well as eight imported and five asymptomatic cases – with most of these reported in Shunyi.
It follows news that a Chinese journalist who bravely exposed the “cover up” of Wuhan’s deadly coronavirus outbreak was jailed for four years for “trouble making”.
Zhang Zhan, 37, was found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” after a brief hearing in Shanghai, according to her legal team.
The Pudong New Area Peoples Court claimed she spread false information, gave interviews to foreign media, disrupted public order and maliciously manipulated the pandemic.
The Chinese authorities have been accused of covering up blunders made at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan and of stifling independent journalism.
There has also been scepticism about the official death toll, given by the authorities as 4,634 from 83,418 cases, which is considerably lower than many less populated countries with better developed healthcare systems.
Damning leaked files allegedly revealed China “lied to the world” about coronavirus cases and hid its true infection rate to “protect” its image.
The explosive secret data, from China’s own health chiefs, appeared to expose a catalogue of cover-ups and blunders which hid the true scale of the killer disease.
CNN said it had investigated the treasure trove of information, contained in a 117-page report marked “internal document, please keep confidential”.
The leaked files exposed China’s botched coronavirus response, including how Beijing downplayed data, taking weeks to diagnose new cases.
Experts said the country may have attempted to suppress information to “protect its image” worldwide.
Meanwhile, China recently sparked fury after its state media mocked the UK as the “sick man of Euope” over the new mutant Covid strain.
The Communist regime blamed Britain over the new variant despite their own failures being suspected to have led to the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 1.7million worldwide.