60,000 People Have Died In China From Covid-19 Since December

Around 60,000 individuals in China have died from Covid-19 since early December when the country abandoned its strict “zero Covid” policy. 

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China spontaneously abandoned its “zero Covid” strategy in early December, since that point around 60,000 citizens have died from the virus, according to a medical official from the National Health Commission during a press conference in Beijing on Saturday. 

Jiao Yahui is the head of the National Health Commission’s medical affairs department who reported that China recorded 59,938 Covid-related deaths between December 8th and January 12th. Of those deaths, Yahui stated that 5,503 were due to respiratory failure caused by Covid-19 infections, while 54,535 of the deaths were in people with underlying diseases. 

Initially, China only reported the Covid-related deaths in individuals who endured respiratory failure. The outbreak, however, has been overwhelming hospitals and crematoriums. The World Health Organization and the US have accused China of “under-representing” the impact of their outbreak within the past month, as reported by CNN

“Top global health officials have urged Beijing to share more data about the explosive spread of Covid in China, where reports have emerged of overwhelmed hospitals and funeral homes.”

WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also spoke with Chinese Health Minister Ma Xiowei this past weekend regarding the surge. 

The WHO also said in a statement that Chinese officials shared data involving the latest numbers on hospitalizations, patients requiring emergency treatment, hospital deaths, outpatient clinics, and critical care. 

“WHO is analyzing this information, which covers early December 2022 to January 12, 2023, and allows for a better understanding of the epidemiological situation and the impact of this wave in China,” the statement said according to CNN. 

The WHO also requested China provide a more comprehensive rundown of the data, and remain open to sharing new data as it comes in the future. Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, stated that China’s data will likely still be doubted due to their lack of transparency regarding deaths and hospitalizations within the past month.

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“The sharp revision is an official response to international criticism of the lack of transparency and accuracy in China’s reporting of Covid-related data. Given the still huge gap between the official count of Covid deaths and the international estimate, I don’t think the revision will quell outside doubts on the government data.”

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Jiao stated during the press conference on Saturday that 477,000 people visited fever clinics across China on January 12th, with hospitalizations peaking on January 5th when 1.63 million individuals were hospitalized. As of January 12th, 1.27 million people were still in the hospital battling Covid. 

“The revision to China’s death toll “should be the first step towards a more timely, open and transparent sharing of Covid statistics (between) China and the world,” said Jin Dongyan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong. 

“Particularly, the most important information includes the infection rate in the general population, the infection rate in the elderly, the admission and occupancy of hospitals and ICUs, the number of deaths directly attributed to Covid and the number of deaths due to worsening of underlying diseases,” the virologist said according to CNN.

“In addition, they should share the results of variant analysis. Besides the number of deaths from hospitals, the total number of Covid-related deaths should also be provided. Both Chinese people who are experiencing the tsunami and the rest of the world need to know more about the Covid statistics in China.”