One more person in China died from the H7N9 strain of bird flu on Tuesday, bringing the total reported impact of this still very mysterious strain to eight deaths and 24 infected people. That's scary enough on its own, but, here's the thing: This bird flu outbreak might just be a lot worse than China is letting on—and it wouldn't be the first time the country's health officials have "covered up" a major disease threat. "The 83-year-old victim, from the eastern province of Jiangsu, was admitted to hospital with a fever on March 20 and confirmed as having H7N9 on April 2," reports Reuters, gleaning information from China's state-run Xinhua newspaper. The first spate of human occurrences of H7N9 was first announced by China around April 2—but that timeframe is actually around two to three months after the first two bird flu victims got sick... meaning that H7N9 has actually been around since February.
"The bird flu outbreak has caused global concern and some Chinese internet users and newspapers have questioned why it took so long for the government to announce the new cases, especially as two of the victims fell ill in February," according to Reuters. In those two cases, according to the AP, one man fell ill on February 19—then died on February 27—while another fell ill on February 27 and died on March 4.... but Chinese authorities didn't announce the deaths and cause until weeks later, on March 31.