The outbreak of Covid-19 in China is the ‘biggest the world has ever seen’.

China’s top health authority has confirmed that the country’s current outbreak is by far the largest the world has ever seen.

An estimated nearly 37 million people in China were infected with Covid-19 in a single day this week, according to minutes of a meeting of the country’s National Health Commission. Bloomberg reported.

Up to 248 million people — nearly 18 percent of China’s 1.4 billion people — are likely to have contracted the virus in the first 20 days of December, the health agency estimated.

The numbers dwarf the previous daily record of about four million and, if correct, confirm that China’s current outbreak is the worst on record — all while the official tally cries out for a cover-up.

suspected cover-up

The 37 million daily cases estimated for Tuesday differ drastically from the only 3049 officially reported infections and are many times higher than the previous world record.

Global cases hit an all-time high of four million on January 19, 2022, when Omicron took the reins as the most prevalent variant.

The estimate is also miles higher than a recent estimate by London-based predictive health researcher Airfinity, which earlier this week suggested about a million people in China were infected and 5,000 people were dying each day.

Chinese President Xi Jinping abruptly abandoned his controversial zero-Covid policy amid fierce anti-government protests, sparking a tsunami of cases while the official death toll remains suspiciously low.

China officially claimed on Wednesday that there had been just eight Covid deaths since early December.

However, that number does not include Solomon Islands Ambassador John Moffat Fugui, who China says has died amid the Covid wave in Beijing The Australian.

The statistics contrast with a growing body of reports of overwhelmed hospitals and crematoria being strained beyond their capacity. Horrifying footage has shown bodies ‘piling up’ in front of morgues and in hospital corridors as the medical system collapses.

On Thursday, AFP reported on visiting a crematorium in China and witnessing the discharge of 40 bodies in two hours.

Relatives of several of those who died told the publication the deaths were due to Covid. A woman said her elderly relative, who was suffering from cold symptoms, tested negative but died after being unable to get an ambulance in time.

A woman in her 20s said she suspected her father had died of Covid despite not having been tested.

“He died too quickly, on the way to the hospital,” she sobbed. “He initially had lung problems … He was only 69.”

A hospital in Shanghai has told its staff to prepare for a “tragic battle” with COVID-19 as half of the city’s 25 million people are expected to be infected by the end of next week.

“Deceased, Deceased”: Makeshift wards tend to the dead

“Deceased, deceased,” shouted a worker in full protective gear as she presented a death certificate to a nurse whose hospital in central China was overflowing with Covid patients.

The No.5 People’s Hospital in Chongqing had the main entrance lobby converted into a makeshift Covid ward during a visit by AFP on Friday.

In the huge atrium, about a dozen beds, mostly occupied by elderly patients on IV fluids, were cordoned off with red-and-white tape.

In a nearby room, about 40 mostly elderly and middle-aged patients sat on sofas and lay on beds receiving IV fluids, some coughing.

A nurse said they all had Covid.

A political casualty

The official death toll also seems to ebb and flow with political protests in the country.

Jin Dongyan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong, told CNN the definition of a “Covid death” was expanded slightly in April this year to justify the suffocating restrictions of Shanghai’s Covid lockdown.

Shanghai went into lockdown from March to June amid fierce protests, and residents were not even allowed to leave their homes to shop. Just 588 Covid deaths were reported at the time, with 600,000 infections.

However, after the lockdown was lifted, the official nationwide death toll was set at zero for six months – despite rising case numbers.

according to dr These inconsistencies show Jin that China’s method of counting Covid deaths is “entirely subjective.”

“The death dates were misleading from the start,” he told the publication.

Government confiscates medicines while residents struggle

Meanwhile, the government has been accused of confiscating medical supplies as residents struggle to buy essentials.

Authorities urged those with mild symptoms to stay home and take care of treatment themselves, prompting a rush for everything from ibuprofen to rapid antigen tests. However, according to AFP interviews and local media, more than a dozen Chinese pharmaceutical companies have been tapped by officials in a bid to secure supplies of essential drugs for the government.

At least 11 out of 42 test kit makers whose products are licensed by China’s medical regulators have had some of their production confiscated by the government or received orders from the state, local reports said.

The widespread disease has “collapsed” China’s broader logistics and transport sector. Viral footage captured in China shows huge piles of boxes lying on the street packed into crowded vehicles, indicating a significant backlog.

This is contributing to an already worrying shortage of pain and fever medicines and sparked concerns about a global shortage given China’s status as a global manufacturing hub.

Distribution of a new variant

There are also concerns that a dangerous sub-variant of rapid-fire transmission could form among China’s vast population.

Daniel Lucey, a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and a professor at Dartmouth University’s Geisel School of Medicine, previously told Bloomberg that “more omicron subvariants would certainly evolve in China over the coming days, weeks and months.”

The World Health Organization also rang the alarm bells. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters Wednesday that more information was urgently needed.

The spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, claimed that China has always released Covid-19 information in a “transparent” manner.

The outbreak is of particular concern in a country with low vaccination rates among the elderly.

China has largely relied on its own vaccines, which have proven less effective at preventing serious illness and death from Covid than the mRNA shots used around the world.

— with AFP

Originally billed as the China Covid-19 outbreak, it is the “biggest the world has ever seen”.

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