World

China reports about 60,000 COVID-related deaths last month

China's National Health Commission says more than 90 percent of people with COVID-19 who died also had cancer, heart or lung diseases, or kidney problems [Ng Han Guan-AP]

After receiving concerns that it was withholding information, China has disclosed roughly 60,000 deaths among COVID-affected persons since early December.

The National Health Commission reported on Saturday that the “emergency peak” of the recent spike appeared to have passed, with the toll from December 8 through Thursday consisting of 5,503 deaths due to respiratory failure caused by COVID-19 and 54,435 deaths from other conditions combined with COVID-19.

It stated that all of the COVID-19-related deaths that were documented took place in hospitals, leaving the possibility that further deaths may have occurred outside of medical settings.

If true, the deaths in China directly related to COVID-19 would increase to 10,775 since the virus was first found in late 2019 in the central city of Wuhan.

After a sudden release of anti-virus measures in December, China stopped publishing statistics on COVID-19 deaths and infections, despite a spike in infections that began in October and has overwhelmed hospitals with hot, wheezing patients.

City and provincial administrations reported that hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens might have been infected with the virus, prompting a global need for more information from the World Health Organization and other governments.

A decrease in people presenting to fever clinics suggests that the outbreak’s peak has passed, according to National Health Commission official Jiao Yahui.

A total of 2.9 million people visited one of those clinics every day on December 23; by Thursday, that number had dropped to 477,000 (or 83 per cent less), according to Jiao.

Even though global health experts have expected at least one million deaths due to COVID this year, China has reported fewer than 5,000 deaths due to the pandemic, making it one of the countries with the lowest death rates.

According to the Health Commission, the median age of those who passed away since December 8 was 80, and 90% were 65 or older.

It was reported that cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and kidney disease accounted for over 90% of all deaths.

Since the sudden increase in reported cases in China began last month, other governments, including the United States and South Korea, have instituted COVID-19 testing and other measures on visitors from China.

Beijing replied on Wednesday by stopping the issuance of new visas to citizens of South Korea and Japan.

With a “zero-COVID” strategy that sought to isolate every case, the world’s most populous country, China, kept its infection rate and mortality lower than the United States and many other countries throughout the pandemic’s peak.

The approach resulted in the isolation of millions of people in their homes and provoked violent demonstrations.

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