Tencent, the second largest company in China, may have inadvertently leaked the true extent of the coronavirus death toll as more than 24,000, vastly higher than the official figure.
It comes amid widespread speculation that the Communist Party in Beijing may be suppressing the ravages of the deadly flu-like virus.
Tencent, a multinational tech conglomerate, reportedly listed figures for the coronavirus on Saturday showing 154,023 were infected and 24,589 dead - more than ten times and 80 times the official figures respectively.
Tencent's webpage titled 'Epidemic Situation Tracker' was swiftly updated to reflect the official figures of 14,446 infected and 304 dead, Taiwan News reported.
The other erroneous or leaked figures posted included 79,808 suspected cases - four times the official numbers - and the number of cured cases as 269, rather than 351.
China's Communist Party has been accused of under-reporting the official figures and cracking down on medics who have attempted to reveal the truth.
China on Thursday reported the death toll from the coronavirus had risen by 73 to 563, with the number of confirmed cases jumping by 3,694 to 28,018, the majority in and around Wuhan.
Most of those who have died were in that region, but officials have confirmed multiple deaths elsewhere, including in the capital Beijing.
But there have been reports from crematorium workers in Wuhan - the epicentre of the virus - that they are being sent corpses not added to the official tally.
Meanwhile hospital staff have leaked videos purporting to show dead bodies strewn across ward corridors in Wuhan.
And a doctor, 34-year-old Li Wenliang, earlier this week came down with the virus himself after he was cautioned by police for informing his colleagues at the start of the outbreak of 'SARS at a Wuhan seafood market.'
In addition, China has been critical of countries like the US for taking what it believes are extreme measures in barring its people from migration, setting a further dichotomy between what Beijing wants the world to believe and what is fact.
The US, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Taiwan and Vietnam have all banned foreigners crossing through their borders from China. And countless airlines have decided to halt flights to the country.
Wuhan's Hubei province reported 70 new deaths and 2,987 new confirmed cases on Wednesday, the local health commission said in a notice on Thursday.
Hubei in central China has been in virtual lock-down for nearly two weeks, with its train stations and airports shut and its roads sealed off.
The coronavirus was first identified in Hubei's provincial capital of Wuhan and is believed to have originated at a seafood market in the city.
The number of deaths on Wednesday was higher than the 65 reported on the previous day, though the number of new cases fell slightly from 3,156.
The province's healthcare infrastructure has come under heavy pressure as a result of the epidemic.
The commission said as many as 14,314 people were still undergoing treatment on Wednesday, with 2,328 still in a serious condition.
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