Chinese province records 1mn cases daily as Beijing stops publishing Covid data | World News - Hindustan Times
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Chinese province records 1mn cases daily as Beijing stops publishing Covid data

Dec 25, 2022 07:04 PM IST

The NHC’s decision not to publish data from Sunday comes more than two weeks after waves of infection have spread unchecked across China, triggering an explosion of Covid-19 cases

Beijing: A Chinese province is logging more than a million daily Covid-19 infections and the number is expected to double during the week-long peak, the provincial government said on Sunday in a rare official announcement on a day when China’s central health authority stopped publishing national Covid-19 statistics without any explanation.

People wearing personal protective equipment stand outside a funeral home, as Covid-19 outbreak continues, in Shanghai, China on Saturday. (REUTERS)
People wearing personal protective equipment stand outside a funeral home, as Covid-19 outbreak continues, in Shanghai, China on Saturday. (REUTERS)

China will no longer publish daily national and provincial statistics of Covid-19 cases or deaths, the national health commission (NHC) said on Sunday even as Zhejiang, an industrial province in eastern China, said it was logging a million new infections every day and the port city of Qingdao - both for the first time - adding that it was battling over 5,00,000 cases daily.

The NHC’s decision not to publish data from Sunday comes more than two weeks after waves of infection have spread unchecked across China, triggering an explosion of Covid-19 cases, following the abrupt lifting of stringent Covid-related restrictions including mass testing and mandatory health codes.

The NHC did not explain why it was changing a policy which had been put in place in early, 2020, after the Covid-19 virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late, 2019.

“Relevant Covid-19 information will be published by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for reference and research,” the commission said in a statement.

The NHC, in fact, has not announced a Covid death for four days despite a massive surge in infections and reports of overwhelmed medical infrastructure. Last week, the NHC narrowed the definition of Covid-related deaths to pneumonia or respiratory failure.

Turning over the epidemic data calculation to CDC, a technical organisation that specialises in health data evaluation through multiple methods, including the use of statistical models to extrapolate data, is reasonable, an anonymous expert told the Global Times (GT).

The decision, however, comes two days after Bloomberg and the Financial Times reported that almost 250 million people in China may have caught Covid-19 in the first 20 days of December, citing data from a leaked official document.

Official Covid-19 infection data, however, were unexpectedly released on Sunday by the eastern province of Zhejiang and the two cities of Qingdao in Shandong province and Dongguan city in the southern province of Guangdong.

A Zhejiang health official on Sunday said the province, which has over 65 million people, is logging around a million new daily Covid-19 infections, a number that is expected to double in the days ahead.

Yu Xinle, deputy director of the Zhejiang Provincial Health Commission, was quoted by The Paper.cn, saying that the number of daily cases during the peak period will be around 2 million, and the peak will last for a week.

Qingdao, a port city in eastern China, is reporting daily new cases within a range between 490,000 and 530,000 for the last few days.

The prediction in south China’s Dongguan showed the city’s infections are increasing at the scale of 250,000 to 300,000 a day, and the growth rate is increasing each day, the GT report said.

The news website, Caixin, meanwhile, reported that teams of medical workers, including senior doctors, have been dispatched from Shandong, Hubei and Jiangsu provinces to Beijing to treat seriously ill patients, a move that’s been criticised because the current outbreak has impacted entire China.

“While it’s not uncommon for regions to mobilise medical staff to help contain outbreaks in other areas, this cross-regional support is seen as unacceptable to many local health officials and frontline workers, who said the current wave of Covid is affecting the entire country, and that medical resources are stretched everywhere,” the Caixin report said.

It is an indication how badly the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak has hit China’s medical infrastructure, given Beijing has some of the best hospitals in the country.

“Beijing has some of the top medical resources in the country. Government data showed that in 2021, 5.64 of every 1,000 people in the capital were licensed physicians and 6.47 were registered nurses, both of which were nearly double the national average last year,” the Caixin report said.

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