China says Covid-19 deaths, severe cases drop by more than 70%

A prominent government scientist has shared that 80 per cent of China’s 1.4 billion population had already been infected.


Daily fatalities at hospitals across the country slid to 896 as of Monday, down from a high of 4,273 on Jan 4. PHOTO: REUTERS

January 26, 2023

BEIJING – Critically-ill Covid-19 cases in China are down 72 per cent from a peak early this month while daily deaths among Covid-19 patients in hospitals have dropped 79 per cent from their peak, the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, or China CDC, said on Wednesday.

The figures, published on the centre’s website, come after a prominent government scientist said over the weekend that 80 per cent of China’s 1.4 billion population had already been infected, making the possibility of a big Covid-19 rebound over the next two or three months remote.

China abruptly ended its strict zero-Covid policy in early December after three years and infections surged across the world’s most populous country.

While officials have said infections have peaked, some global experts have warned about the possibility of a surge in cases in rural areas less equipped to deal with them as millions of Chinese travel home for family reunions during the ongoing Chinese New Year holiday.

China was urged by the World Health Organisation earlier this month to release more detailed information on its Covid-19 situation. The government also drew criticism for dramatically narrowing its definition of a Covid-19 death and stopping daily caseload reports.

Authorities have since reported on deaths that fall outside the narrower definition, which counts only fatalities from infected people with respiratory failure, in an attempt to appease the concerns. Still, the true toll could be hundreds of thousands higher than the official figure that counts only deaths at hospitals.

On Jan 12, the authorities announced that nearly 60,000 people with Covid-19 had died in hospitals since China dismantled its strict zero-COVID policy.

The China CDC said on Wednesday that the number of critically ill patients in China peaked on Jan 4 at 128,000 cases and fell to 36,000 cases by Jan 23.

The number of deaths in hospitals, meanwhile, reached a daily peak of 4,273 on Jan 4 and fell to 896 by Jan 23.

Visits to fever clinics fell 96.2 per cent, from a peak of 2.867 million on Dec 22 to 110,000 on Jan 23.

The China CDC added that on Dec 22, 2022, the number of infected people and the number of fever outpatient consultations reached a peak, with the number of new infections “exceeding 7 million per day and the number of daily fever outpatient consultations peaking at 2.867 million”.

The data follows comments from an official at the National Health Commission, who last week said that China had passed the peak of Covid-19 patients in fever clinics, emergency rooms and in critical condition. BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

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