The ruling Chinese Communist Party is moving to curb media organizations and social media users in their reporting of the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic, RFA has learned, as the number of confirmed cases rose to more than 17,000 with a total of 362 deaths reported on Monday. Journalists in Wuhan working for Caixin, Phoenix news, and other state-approved news organizations have been ordered by the party's powerful propaganda department to conduct a review of their coverage after their reports indicated that local officials had likely sought to cover up the extent of the outbreak in its early stages.
Journalists who had interviewed patients or their families, or reported on the large number of patients left to fend for themselves at home due to a lack of resources, and were therefore left out of official statistics, were also targeted for "review" by propaganda officials. Many estimates have taken the number of undiagnosed, untreated, and uncounted coronavirus patients into account, with the majority of observers convinced that the number of cases likely exceeds 100,000, with deaths also going unreported.
One reporter who declined to be named said propaganda officials had ordered their publication to delete a reference to large numbers of uncounted cases.