China’s top health authority has announced it has stopped publishing daily Covid-19 case numbers. Reports indicate that the actual toll of the ongoing outbreak in the country is far worse than the official figures released by the authorities.
The National Health Commission (NHC) said on Sunday that “relevant outbreak information” would instead be released by China’s CDC, a sub-division managed by the NHC. The decision was made to refer cases to lower authorities as China is experiencing an unprecedented wave of coronavirus after restrictions were eased significantly.
The statement did not say how often China’s CDC will release Covid reports. Traditionally, China’s CDC only publishes monthly digests of all infectious diseases regulated by Chinese law, from seasonal flu to hepatitis B to plague.
There is no clear data on the extent of the spread of the virus at the national level since China eased Covid restrictions significantly earlier this month.
China has not officially tallied the total number of infections after officials said they would shut down a nationwide network of PCR testing booths and stop collecting data on asymptomatic cases. We use rapid antigen tests to detect and are not obligated to report positive results.
Health officials in China’s Zhejiang province, just south of Shanghai, said on Sunday they were seeing more than 1 million new Covid-19 cases a day. The state’s population is her 64 million, according to the latest census data released in 2021. CNN’s calculations show that there are about 1,563 new infections per 100,000 people every day.
Yu Xinle, deputy director of Zhejiang’s health commission, said the province’s current wave is expected to peak around New Year’s Day, with daily infections reaching 2 million. This equates to over 3,000 new infections per 100,000 people every day, and he lasts a week before declining.
Qingdao, a city of nine million people in northern Shandong province, is also seeing about 500,000 new infections each day, the city’s health chief Bo Tao told journalists on Friday, adding that the peak has yet to come. According to CNN’s calculations, this equates to 5,556 infections per 100,000 population.
In the southern manufacturing hub of Dongguan, a city of more than 10 million people, health officials said on Friday they were seeing 250,000 to 350,000 new cases every day.
“The peak of Covid infections is approaching…In Dongguan, the number of infections is increasing at an accelerating rate, and our healthcare system and healthcare workers are facing unprecedented challenges and immense pressure,” said the city. health officials said in a statement.
For nearly three years, the Chinese government has used strict lockdowns, centralized quarantines, mass testing, and rigorous contact tracing to curb the spread of the virus. It was abandoned in early December, following an explosion of nationwide protests against draconian restrictions that upended daily life.
However, experts say that increasing vaccination coverage among the elderly, surges in hospitals and increasing intensive care capacity, and insufficient stockpiles of antiviral drugs are ill-prepared for such a drastic withdrawal. I warn you there is.
A study in early December found that nearly a million people could die if China were suddenly unprepared and pulled out of Covid-zero.
About 250 million people in China may have been infected with Covid-19 in the first 20 days of December, Bloomberg News and the Financial Times reported on Friday.
If estimates that CNN cannot independently confirm are correct, it accounts for about 18% of China’s 1.4 billion population, representing the world’s largest Covid-19 outbreak to date.
The figures cited were released at an internal meeting of China’s National Health Commission (NHC) on Wednesday. Stated.
This figure contrasts starkly with the NHC’s public data, which reported just 62,592 symptomatic cases in the first 20 days of December. CNN has reached out to the NHC for comment.
Faced with growing skepticism that it is downplaying the number of deaths from the novel coronavirus, the Chinese government recently revealed it had updated the way it counts the number of deaths from the virus, dwarfing official tallies. defended accuracy.
According to the latest guidelines from the National Health Commission, only those who died due to pneumonia and respiratory failure after contracting the virus are classified as Covid-related deaths, said Wang Guiqiang, top doctor for infectious diseases. said at a news conference on Tuesday.
He said a person whose death is deemed to have been caused by another illness or underlying condition, such as in the case of a heart attack, is not considered to have died from the virus, even if they were infected with the novel coronavirus at the time. .
Officially, China had only reported eight deaths from Covid as of December 22 this month. This is a surprisingly low figure given the rapid spread of the virus and relatively low vaccination coverage among vulnerable older people.
The official tally has been met with disbelief and ridicule online, with many posts mourning loved ones who died of Covid. Caixin, a Chinese financial magazine known for its investigative articles, reported on the deaths of her two veteran state media journalists infected with Covid the day the official toll fell to zero.
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