With the current panic ongoing while simultaneously China saying they have it all under control, China with this virus is the patient zero and is the most important place to analyse in order to evaluate the severity of the situation.
The problem with this is that China has quite the track record on controlling their information aka censorship. Whistleblowers have already been punished harshly and the few numbers we have gotten from them indicate that their official number of currently ~80.000 cases and 3.300 deaths is most likely wrong
How wrong is it, though? Let's go with some simple maths based on one of the reliable informations we have.
The New York Post reported the following:
“One crematorium manager told a Hong Kong reporter that, in normal times, his 24 ovens were lit five days a week for four hours at a time. Now, he said, they have so many corpses to deal with that all the ovens are going around the clock. This suggests the body count must be in the thousands.”
This will be helpful when we calculate the numbers using the time a body requires to cremate.
“On an average, it takes about one to three hours to cremate a human body”
With the clarification of the one crematorium with 24 oven-chambers that they are working non-stop we can extrapolate some interesting numbers for city of Wuhan.
So let's calculate with the following assumptions:
Assumption #1 - As a body requires 1 to 3 hours to cremate, I will calculate with 2 hours
Assumption #2 - We assume that China has the same security, quality and moral standards in their crematoriums that we have. Even during an extreme situation like it is currently. Meaning they will only cremate one body per oven-chamber and only insert a new body once the previous one has been fully cremated. Which is rather generous and unlikely to be the case.
The math for a single day: 24chambers x (24hours/2hours-per-body) = 288 bodies
Assumption #3 - The report was from early February and we will assume the crematoriums are running for 6 weeks at maximum capacity. Which again I think is rather generous.
The math for these 6 weeks: 24 x (24/2) x 7days x 6weeks = 12.096 bodies
Now we need to subtract the normal amount of capacity that said crematorium has. In the New York Post article it is said they are normally working 5 days a week at 4 hours a day.
The math for this is: 24 x (4/2) x 5 x 6 = 1.440 bodies
As a result, that single crematorium is cremating (12.096-1.440=)10.656 bodies more in a 6 week timewindow than they normally do. All of those being a direct or indirect result of the coronavirus. Directly due to the virus and indirectly due to other illnesses not being adequately treated due to the overload at the hospitals.
Remember how I said we are only calculating one crematorium? The New York Post articles gives us another help with this as they mention there are 14 crematoriums in Wuhan.
Assumption #4 - Let's be extra generous and assume the other 13 crematoriums have only half the workload as the one I calculated for.
The math: 10.656 / 2 x 13 = 69.264 bodies. Adding the 10.656 to it and we are at 79.920 bodies only for the Wuhan area.
That's ~80.000 deaths only in Wuhan. Wuhan has a population of 8-11 million depending, if you add their suburbs or not. That's less than 1% of the entire chinese population.
Assumption #5 - The Virus didn't just stick to Wuhan, but spread in China before they started their quarantines. Wuhan most likely has a higher amount of infected percentage of the population, but I don't see any chance the virus didn't spread all over China with it's 1.3 billion people.
So what’s Chinas official current deathtoll? 3248! See here: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
Yeah, I do not buy their numbers at all. Especially in context of all the other whistleblowers statements that have been made. Looking atthis rather generous maths I did, I would AT LEAST give Chinas numbers a factor of 10 aka add a zero to their infections and deaths. Especially when looking at the infection ratio per population and comparing it to other countries such as Italy having (by the official numbers) more than 10 times the infection-rate.
My assumption would also explain why China has been improving recently – as they likely are moving closer to herd immunity levels in their epicentre.
tl;dr Chinas number are bullocks.
Final Words: This virus is definitely serious. More serious than the seasonal flu, even if it's simply due to the fact of having zero herd immunity to it. I still think people shouldn't be panicking, but they also should not take it lightly and get prepared.