≈ 60,000 recent Covid-19-related deaths in China, peak has passed: NHC
60,000 COVID-19-related deaths reported in China in the past month; peak infection has passed: NHC
China announced the most recent numbers of epidemic-related deaths, the National Health Commission (NHC) revealed on Saturday, with a total of 59,938 Covid-19-related deaths between Dec. 8, 2022 and Jan. 12 this year.
China has insisted on classifying deaths of patients with a positive nucleic acid test as Covid-19-related deaths, which is in line with World Health Organization (WHO) and international standards, the NHC explained.
Jiao Yahui, an official from the NHC, revealed the number, saying that the average age of those who died of Covid-19 in the period was 80.3 years old, with 90.1% of the fatalities above 65, and 56.5% were above 80; more than 90% suffered from underlying conditions.
The Covid-19 deaths' causes are twofold: coronavirus infection leading to respiratory failure and death, or underlying diseases interacting with the virus and leading to death, Jiao said. Among the reported 59,938 Covid-19 deaths, 5,503 were the reason for respiratory failure caused by the virus, and 54,435 were from underlying conditions that interacted with epidemic infection, according to the NHC.
Winter is the season during which respiratory and other sicknesses interact often affecting the elderly, Jiao said; thus, relatively a major part of elderly people have been victims of the present wave of the epidemic.
Jiao's remarks came following concerns by some in the international community regarding China's Covid-19 data.
Following reports that the country has been playing down the number of deaths caused by Covid, it is not easy to receive an accurate grasp of the death rate during peak infections, Liang Wannian, head of the expert panel overseeing the national Covid-19 response, was quoted by media as saying last month.
A better evaluation can only be made after the infection ebbs away, and the current phase should focus on preventing severe and fatal cases, said Liang.
Read: China epidemic situation controllable: Beijing
China will publish Covid-19 data as a normal Class-B disease, a National Administration of Disease Prevention and Control official said Saturday. The CDC is in charge of publishing the number of severe and fatal Covid-19 cases.
Both the infection numbers and the number of severe cases had already reached a tapering point, NHC officials said.
On Jan. 5, the number of severe cases stood at 128,000, reaching a peak, as per Jiao who noted that the number was down to 105,000 as of Jan. 12, and 75.3% of beds for severe cases were occupied.
Yet, she warned that the number of severe cases that have been hospitalized currently remains high. On Jan. 12, 97.8% of reported severe cases in the hospital, who totaled 97,000, were suffering from both Covid-19 infection and an underlying condition, Jiao said.
As for the number of cases detected at fever clinics, it is also declining, she added, stating that 33.9% of fever clinics patients were Covid-19 positive on Dec. 20, and the rate has declined to 10.8% as of Jan. 12, which shows that peak infection has passed.
On Saturday, the NHC announced that the number of visits to China's fever clinics peaked on Dec. 23, 2022, noting that the number totaled 2.87 million that day. Since that date, the number of visits to fever clinics has been on a downward trend, falling to 477,000 nationwide on Jan. 12, Jiao said.
It is worth noting that the Chinese New Year falls on Jan. 22 this year, and how the rural areas address the surge of Covid-19 cases has become a focal point.
As of Jan. 12, more than 5,000 county-level hospitals have received 301,000 patients, accounting for 23.7% of the nationwide total, Jiao said.
Furthermore, 15.1% of cases with severe symptoms nationwide were identified in county-level medical institutes.
Jiao urged rural areas to enhance their treatment capacity, involving better-equipped hospitals in urban areas, allowing for patient transfer; and sending medical workers from urban hospitals to rural areas.