China reported a 70% spike in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations till January 15 compared to the previous week according to the report published by the World Health Organisation. The number of people hospitalized rose to 63,307, the highest weekly number China has reported since the beginning of the pandemic.
China said on Saturday that nearly 60,000 COVID-19-related hospital deaths have occurred since it abandoned the zero-COVID policy last month; a huge increase from previously reported figures. The WHO said it awaited “detailed provincial data disaggregated by the week of reporting” on these deaths. It is said that as these deaths have occurred in hospitals, there is a possibility that more people might have died at home.
Covid-19 cases increases day by day
After widespread protests in November, China dismantled its strict three-year anti-virus regime of mass lockdowns, travel curbs, and mandatory testing in early December. Since then, there has been a surge in the number of cases in the country, now at 1.4 billion. China had stopped reporting data on COVID-19 infections and the number of deaths after revoking the zero-COVID policy until now.
Xi Jinping said that he was “concerned” about the virus situation in China’s countryside. As the celebrations for the Lunar New Year are approaching, millions are returning to their rural hometowns and this could lead to a spike in cases in the under-resourced hinterlands. He called the current wave of infections “fierce and serious” and asked frontline workers to increase self-protective measures. He also defended the zero-COVID policy saying that it was the “right choice” that had allowed the country to fight “several rounds of outbreaks of virus mutations.”
The WHO and several other bodies have criticized China for under-reporting the scale of the outbreak and have repeatedly called for more detailed data on deaths, excess mortality, and genetic sequences.