China reports almost 60,000 COVID-related deaths

China reports almost 60,000 COVID-related deaths

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BEIJING (AP) — China on Saturday reported nearly 60,000 deaths in people who had COVID-19 since early December after complaining that it was not releasing data and said the “emergency peak” of its recent surge appears to have passed. .

The number includes 5,503 deaths due to respiratory failure caused by COVID-19 and 54,435 deaths from other diseases combined with COVID-19 as of Dec. 8, the National Health Commission reported. He said those “COVID-related deaths” occurred in hospitals, which left open the possibility that even more people had died at home.

The report would double China’s official death toll from COVID-19 to 10,775 since the disease was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019.

China stopped reporting data on COVID-19 deaths and infections after it suddenly lifted anti-virus controls in early December, despite a surge in infections that began in October and has filled hospitals with feverish and respiratory patients.

The World Health Organization and other governments appealed for information after reports from city and provincial governments suggested hundreds of millions of people in China may have contracted the virus.

The peak of the latest wave of infection appears to have passed based on the drop in the number of patients visiting fever clinics, said a National Health Commission official, Jiao Yahui.

The daily number of people going to those clinics peaked at 2.9 million on Dec. 23 and had fallen 83% to 477,000 on Thursday, according to Jiao.

“These data show that the peak of the national emergency has passed,” Jiao told a news conference.

The United States, South Korea and other governments have imposed virus testing and other controls on people arriving from China. Beijing retaliated on Wednesday by suspending the issuance of new visas to travelers from South Korea and Japan.

China kept its infection and death rates lower than those of the United States and some other countries at the height of the pandemic with a “zero-COVID” strategy aimed at isolating every case. That shut down access to several cities, kept millions at home and sparked angry protests.

The average age of people who have died since Dec. 8 is 80.3 years and 90.1% are aged 65 or older, according to the Health Commission. He said more than 90% of the people who died had cancer, heart or lung disease or kidney problems.

“The number of elderly patients dying from the disease is relatively large, which suggests that we should pay more attention to elderly patients and try our best to save their lives,” Jiao said.

This month, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said agency officials met with Chinese officials to underscore the importance of sharing more details about COVID-19 cases, including hospitalization rates and genetic sequences. .

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