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China's top health body stops publishing daily covid case figures as infections soar


Reports indicate that the true number of victims of the ongoing outbreak in the country is much worse than the official figures published by the authorities.

Overflowing crematoriums in Chinese cities due to numerous deaths 3:18

(CNN) --

China's top health authority says it has stopped publishing daily numbers of Covid-19 cases, as reports indicate the true death toll from the country's ongoing outbreak is much worse than official numbers. published by the authorities.

The National Health Commission (NHC) said on Sunday that the China CDC, a sub-department managed by the NHC, would instead publish "relevant information on outbreaks."

The decision to delegate counting of cases to a lower authority comes as China is hit by an unprecedented wave of coronavirus after a drastic easing of restrictions.

The statement did not say how often the China CDC would publish its reports on covid.

Traditionally, the China CDC only publishes monthly summaries of all infectious diseases regulated by Chinese law, from seasonal flu to hepatitis B to plague.

  • As crematoria fill up, China changes how it counts covid-19 deaths

Since China slashed its covid restrictions earlier this month, there has been no clear data on the extent of the virus's spread nationwide.

China is no longer officially reporting its total number of infections, after authorities closed its nationwide network of PCR testing booths and said they would stop collecting data on asymptomatic cases.

People in China now use rapid antigen tests to detect infections and are not required to report positive results.


Medical staff wait to help a patient at a fever clinic treating Covid-19 patients in Beijing on December 21, 2022. Credit: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Health officials in China's Zhejiang province, located just south of Shanghai, said on Sunday that they are seeing more than a million new cases of Covid-19 a day.

The province has a population of 64 million according to the most recent census data published in 2021. According to CNN calculations, it would indicate around 1,563 new daily infections per 100,000 inhabitants.

Zhejiang health commission deputy head Yu Xinle said the current wave in the province is expected to peak around New Year's Day, with the daily number of infections reaching 2 million, which would be equivalent to to more than 3,000 new daily cases per 100,000 people, and would last a week before subsiding.

The city of Qingdao of 9 million in the northern province of Shandong also has about half a million new infections every day, the city's health chief Bo Tao told reporters on Friday, adding that the peak is yet to come.

According to CNN calculations, this represents 5,556 infections per 100,000 inhabitants.

In Dongguan, a city with a population of more than 10 million, health officials said Friday that they are registering between 250,000 and 350,000 new cases a day.

"Covid infection peak is approaching... the number of infections is increasing at a rapid rate in Dongguan, our health system and health workers are facing unprecedented challenge and immense pressure," the authority said. city ​​health in a statement.

grim estimates

For nearly three years, the Chinese government has used strict lockdowns, centralized quarantines, mass testing, and rigorous contact tracing to slow the spread of the virus.

That expensive strategy was abandoned in early December, after an explosion of protests across the country against the strict restrictions that have upended business and daily life.

However, experts warned that the country is ill-prepared for such a drastic measure, failing to increase the vaccination rate of the elderly, increase intensive care capacity in hospitals and stockpile antiviral drugs.

A study in early December found that China's abrupt and unprepared exit from the zero covid policy could cause almost 1 million deaths.

China prepares for a new wave of covid-19 2:10

Nearly 250 million people in China may have contracted covid-19 in the first 20 days of December, according to an internal estimate by the nation's top health officials, Bloomberg News and the Financial Times reported Friday.

If correct, the estimate, which CNN cannot independently confirm, would account for roughly 18% of China's 1.4 billion people and represent the largest Covid-19 outbreak to date worldwide.

The quoted figures were presented during an internal meeting of China's National Health Commission (NHC) on Wednesday, according to both outlets, citing sources familiar with the matter or involved in the discussions.

The NHC's summary of the meeting on Wednesday said it delved into the treatment of patients affected by the new outbreak.

The figures are in stark contrast to public data from the NHC, which reported just 62,592 symptomatic cases in the first 20 days of December.

CNN has reached out to the NHC for comment.

Facing growing skepticism that it is underplaying Covid deaths, the Chinese government recently defended the accuracy of its official count by revealing that it had updated its method of counting deaths from the virus.

According to the latest guidelines from the National Health Commission, only those whose death is caused by pneumonia and respiratory failure after contracting the virus are classified as Covid deaths, Wang Guiqiang, a leading infectious disease doctor, said at a press conference. on Tuesday.

Those deemed to have died due to another underlying disease or condition, such as in the case of a heart attack, will not be counted as a virus death, even if they were sick with covid at the time, he said.

Officially, China had reported just eight Covid deaths this month as of December 22, a surprisingly low number given the rapid spread of the virus and relatively low rates of booster shots among the vulnerable elderly.

The official tally has been met with disbelief and mockery online, where posts mourning loved ones dying of covid abound.

Caixin, a Chinese financial magazine known for its investigative articles, reported the deaths of two veteran state media journalists infected with covid, on days when the official number was zero.

CNN's Nectar Gan, Selina Wang and Cheng Cheng contributed to this report.

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2022-12-26

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