The question of determining the exact number of COVID-19 deaths in China has been a source of contention in recent days. Chinese health officials have said that it is not necessary to dwell on the exact number, and have suggested that each country should classify deaths according to its own situation. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has criticised this new definition as "too narrow" and has requested more accurate information from China.
At a news conference on Wednesday, epidemiologist Liang Wannian said that the key task during the pandemic should be treatment and Wang Guiqiang, the head of the infectious disease department at Peking University First Hospital, proposed that China could determine the number of COVID-19 deaths by looking at the overall excess mortality rate. Currently, official figures reported only 37 COVID-related deaths since last month in China, out of a population of 1.4 billion.
Beijing has argued that it has been transparent with the international community about its COVID-19 data and has urged the WHO to remain objective. The resolution of this debate remains unclear at present.