Chinese enjoy a day in the sun, as well as having wedding photos taken, in Beijing on Thursday. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
April 3 (UPI) -- More than 1 million people worldwide have been confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus but the actual number could be as high as 10 million, said Australia's top doctor on Friday.
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy gave the estimate during a press conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Canberra, stating the disparity is due to some countries' inability to test.
"Worldwide, we've now passed a million reported cases of COVID-19," he said. "We believe that the true number is probably five or 10 times as much as that because we know that judging by the death rate, the testing rate in many countries, they are not detecting all the cases. There are some countries that don't have the capacity to test."
Australia has more than 5,300 cases and 27 deaths due to the virus, but he is sure of those numbers as he is "pretty confident" Australia has "the best testing" in the world.
Murphy said the coronavirus growth rate in Australia has been dropping every day due to measures the government has implemented, including strict social distancing guidelines and the closing of its borders.
Asked whether he trusts China's confirmed numbers, Murphy replied the only numbers he has "total faith in are the Australian numbers."
The comment comes on the heels of reports that the Central Intelligence Agency believes China has been underreporting its confirmed cases, of which it said on Friday had risen by more than 30 new cases to 81,620.
"I think they have been pretty transparent but, as I've said, I'm only confident about our numbers," he said. "I'm certainly not confident even the numbers out of the U.S. aren't much higher than being reported because nobody else in the world has been doing testing like we have."
In response to the report that it was concealing its true numbers, and to similar comments recently made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence, China said they have always been "open, transparent and forthcoming" about its efforts to combat the coronavirus.
"The comments by these few U.S. politicians are just shameless and morally repulsive," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. "As we've repeatedly said, slanders, smears and blame games cannot make up for lost time. More lies will only waste more time and lead to more lives lost."
First reported by Bloomberg on Thursday, the report states China has been underreporting its total cases and deaths due to COVID-19.
The report follows China earlier this week changing how it reports its daily updates, counting asymptomatic cases for the first time.
On Friday, Beijing's National Health Commission reported 31 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, all but two of which were imported. It also recorded 60 new asymptomatic cases, pushing its total of such cases to nearly 1,300.
In the daily update, it said four people died over Thursday, all in Hubei province, the pandemic's ground zero and where the majority of the country's infected and dead were located.
Its death toll climbed to 3,322.
Once the epicenter of the outbreak, China has since been overtaken by four countries based on the number of infections. More than 1 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 with nearly a quarter of them located in the United States.