New Wuhan video reignites 21 million missing phone users row over actual coronavirus deaths

  • Conspiracy theories had linked the drop in cellphone users as proof that COVID-19 killed 21 million in China

  • There is a wide spread belief that China is hiding the actual number of fatalities

  • Video reignites 21 million missing phone users row

A viral video that was widely being shared on Chinese social media networks claims to show thousands of mobile phones belonging to dead coronavirus patients from Wuhan being dumped.

The fifteen-second video shows workers gathering and disposing-off mobile phones that belonged to Wuhan residents, who later died of COVID 19 after contracting the deadly coronavirus.

The clip shared on social media claimed that the workers were collecting the phones to dispose of after they were taken from the dead coronavirus patients.

The veracity of claims made in the video can not be verified independently. The surfacing of mobile phones belonging to the dead coronavirus patients, however, once again has given wind to conspiracy theories that connected the drop in cellphone users in China as proof that the coronavirus has killed 21 million in the country, far more than the official count.

Patients are seen at a temporary hospital converted from "Wuhan Livingroom" in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 10, 2020. In face of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic, Wuhan authorities have transformed public venues such as exhibition centers and gymnasiums into temporary hospitals. The hospitals have a large capacity of treating patients with mild symptoms and play an important role in isolating the source of infection and cutting off the routes of infection during epidemic prevention. The first batch of patients was hospitalized on Feb. 5. (Xinhua/Xiong Qi/IANS) Xinhua/IANS

For the record, the Chinese telecom agencies had told The Associated Press that such claims were baseless as the number had dropped because many users in the country had stopped using multiple phone numbers due to change in lifestyle after coronavirus.

Many publications before the rebuttal from China had posted stories with headline such as: "Is China hiding the real COVID-19 death toll? 21 million phones vanish."


Why everyone still wants to believe that China is hiding the real figures of the dead?

The deadly coronavirus, which has now become a global pandemic has till now infected 24,16,135 and killed 1,65,939, who died of COVID 19 after contracting the highly contagious coronavirus.

The virus first broke out in Wuhan somewhere at the end of November 2019. While the pandemic has wreaked havoc in other countries, Chinese official estimate that the virus killed 4,632 and infected 82,747 in Mainland China.

The figures in China are abysmal compared to Italy, Spain, and the United States. The coronavirus pandemic has claimed 41,155 lives in the United States, 23,660 in Italy and 20,582 in Spain, whereas the number of infected in these countries was 7,72,665 in the US; 1,78,972 in Italy and 2,00,210 in Spain.

Number of dead in Wuhan itself could be over 40,000

A Wuhan resident in an interview published in Radio Free Asia on Friday, March 27 contradicted the figures of the Chinese government.

"The incinerators have been working round the clock, so how can so few people have died?" The local residents estimated based on the number of urns containing the ashes of the dead that were being distributed daily that more 40,000 had died in Wuhan itself.

This article was first published on April 21, 2020