The World Health Organization on Wednesday said that China is underreporting Covid-19 figures – especially the number of deaths – in its official data, reported the BBC.

On December 25, China’s National Health Commission had stopped publishing daily Covid-19 data amid a significant surge in infections and hospitalisations in the country.

“We believe that the current numbers being published from China underrepresent the true impact of the disease in terms of hospital admissions, in terms of ICU admissions, particularly in terms of death,” WHO’s emergencies director, Mike Ryan told reporters on Wednesday, reported the BBC.

He added that China’s definition of Covid-19 death is too narrow.

Last month, China had narrowed its definition of Covid-19 deaths, drastically cutting down its death statistics. The health officials are counting only those who died from Covid-caused pneumonia or respiratory failure.

China has only recorded 22 Covid-19 deaths since December, reported Al Jazeera. However, according to a Financial Times report, officials in the country have estimated that around 25 crore citizens or 18% of the population were infected with coronavirus in the first 20 days of December.

Coronavirus cases in China increased sharply after the authorities abandoned its strict “zero-Covid” policy last month following unprecedented anti-lockdown protests. The rapid increase in cases has led to some hospitals and morgues in the country being overwhelmed.

On Wednesday, the global health body’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus asked China to present more rapid, regular, reliable data on hospitalisations and deaths.

“With circulation in China so high and comprehensive data not forthcoming – as I said last week it is understandable that some countries are taking steps they believe will protect their own citizens,” Ghebreyesus said.

Last month, India along with the United States, Spain, France, South Korea, Italy, Japan and Taiwan announced they will require negative tests from passengers arriving from China. On Tuesday, China had warned that it would take countermeasures in response to the mounting travel restrictions imposed on passengers travelling abroad from its territory,