Nearly 60,000 people have died from Covid in China since the country abruptly abandoned its strict “zero Covid” policy in early December, a National Health Commission (NHC) medical official said at a news conference in Beijing on Saturday.
Jiao Yahui, head of the NHC’s medical affairs department, said China had recorded 59,938 Covid-related deaths between December 8 and January 12. Of those deaths, 5,503 were due to respiratory failure caused by Covid infections and 54,435 were people infected with both Covid and diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
China has so far only listed those Covid patients as having died of Covid who succumbed to respiratory failure. In the month after December 8, China reported just 37 deaths from local Covid cases, according to figures released on the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website – despite the outbreak hospitals and crematoria amid apparent Covid -flare ups in several overwhelmed cities.
The World Health Organization and the United States have accused China of “underrepresenting” the seriousness of its current outbreak, while top global health officials have also urged Beijing to share more data on the explosive spread of Covid in China, where reports have surfaced of overwhelmed hospitals and funeral homes.
Jiao, the medical official, said clinical visits with fever and hospitalizations with Covid in China have already peaked.
Visits to fever clinics — in both cities and rural areas — have declined since the peak, when more than 2.86 million people visited them on December 23, 2022, according to the NHC.
As of Jan. 12, 477,000 people attended fever clinics across China, Jiao said Saturday.
The NHC said hospital admissions of Covid-19 patients also peaked on January 5, 2023, when 1.63 million people were hospitalized and 1.27 million Covid patients remained hospitalized on January 12, added Jiao.