Unconfirmed reports from the Epoch Times suggest the Chinese Communist Party is dramatically undercounting Covid-19 infection data. The New York-based outlet claims to have obtained leaked internal documents from Shandong province’s local government. On Feb. 18, Chinese authorities may have undercounted Covid-19 infections by a staggering 520%. Coronavirus cases surmount 81,000 globally. | Source(s): Johns Hopkins CSSE / GIS and Data.As the Wuhan coronavirus explodes all over the globe, the international community is increasingly critical of China’s handling of the outbreak. Since the beginning, the Communist Party’s secrecy and incompetence have led to this crisis slipping out of control. Many believe the Chinese government is still underreporting Covid-19 data. Unconfirmed reports suggest that these assumptions may be correct. According to the Epoch Times, an anti-communist news outlet in New York, Chinese authorities may have underreported daily Covid-19 infection rates by up to 520% in Shandong province. The report claims to use leaked internal documents to substantiate these bold claims. Covid-19 is on the Verge of Being Declared a Pandemic The Covid-19 situation is not under control. The World Health Organization has designated the disease a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and it may soon label it a pandemic as it spreads rapidly around the globe. Currently, there are 81,442 confirmed cases of the novel disease with 2,771 fatalities. Mainland China remains the epicenter of the outbreak with 78,964 cases in that region alone. Despite the huge number of infections in China, many believe the Chinese government is deliberately undercounting the severity of the impact to prevent panic and protect its reputation. Many Believe China is Underreporting Coronavirus Cases Dr. Anne Schuchat, deputy director of the CDC, stated that her organization believes China is underreporting Covid-19 data. This is what she had to say at a press event on Feb. 11: We absolutely assume that the reported cases are underestimated. The early exportation of the virus to a number of countries was used by mathematical modelers to estimate what the total cases must be. The CDC is not alone in its suspicion of China’s numbers. According to a study from Ohio State University, the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak could be more widespread than the Chinese authorities are admitting. These researchers conducted a modeling study that estimated the real infection rate to be five to ten times higher than the official government data. Now, a new report from the Epoch Times may offer conclusive evidence that China is fudging the numbers in at least one local government. This calls the national statistics into question. Shandong Infection Rates Could be Much Higher than Official Figures The Epoch Times has obtained a series of leaked internal documents from Shandong Province that reveal the coronavirus outbreak is significantly worse than official reports suggest. The outlet provides a Chinese-language reconciliation of the official number of Covid-19 cases compared to the number of positive test samples that day. On Feb. 18, the Chinese government confirmed one case of Covid-19 in Shandong province, but 52 people tested positive that day according to the leaked documents. This suggests the Chinese authorities undercounted the data by 520% that day. The Epoch Times goes on to report: To date, this is the most definitive evidence that Chinese authorities routinely underreport cases. They elaborate on the possible motives for China’s undercounting: U.S.-based China commentator Tang Jingyuan told The Epoch Times that authorities reporting fewer infections was likely a tactic to convince Chinese citizens that the virus’s spread was contained. And thus, it would be safe to return to work. Can we Trust China’s Covid-19 Data? While the Epoch Times report is unconfirmed, it does raise suspicions about the reliability of China’s Covid-19 numbers. If Shandong Province is underreporting its numbers, other Chinese regions could be doing the same. The Chinese government reports 78,070 confirmed cases in mainland China. But the real infection rate could be in the hundreds of thousands if the pattern seen in Shandong holds in around the country. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com. This article was edited by Sam Bourgi.