China has reported almost 13,000
deaths related to Covid-19 in hospitals between January 13 and
19, as its experts say the wave of infections across the country has already peaked.
The death toll update on Sunday, from China’s Center for Disease
Control and Prevention, adds to the nearly 60,000 Covid-related deaths in hospitals between December 8 and January 12, reported on January 14.
That marked a huge increase from the 5,000-plus deaths reported previously over the entire pandemic period.
The death count reported by Chinese authorities excludes those who died at home, and some doctors have said they are discouraged from putting Covid on death certificates.
Hospitals and funeral homes have been overwhelmed since
China abandoned the world’s strictest regime of Covid controls
and mass testing in early December, which had caused significant
economic damage and stress.
That abrupt policy U-turn, which followed historic protests
against the curbs, unleashed Covid on a population of 1.4
billion that had been largely shielded from the disease since it
emerged in the city of Wuhan in late 2019.
Travel rush raising concerns
Spending by funeral homes on items from body bags to
cremation ovens has risen in many provinces, documents show, one
of several indications of Covid’s deadly impact in China.
Some health experts expect that more than one million people
will die from the disease in China this year, with British-based
health data firm Airfinity forecasting Covid fatalities could
hit 36,000 a day this week.
As millions of migrant workers return home for Lunar New
Year celebrations, health experts are particularly concerned
about people living in China’s vast countryside, where medical
facilities are poor compared with those in the affluent coastal
About 110 million railway passenger trips are estimated to
have been made during January 7-21, the first 15 days of the 40-day
Lunar New Year travel rush, up 28 percent year-on-year, People’s Daily,
the Communist Party’s official newspaper reported.
A total of 26.23 million trips were made on the Lunar New Year
eve via railway, highway, ships and aeroplanes, half the
pre-pandemic levels, but up 50.8 percent from last year, state-run CCTV
The mass movement of people during the holiday period may
spread the pandemic, boosting infections in some areas, but a
second Covid wave is unlikely in the near term, Wu Zunyou, chief
epidemiologist at the China Center for Disease Control and
Prevention, said on Saturday on the Weibo social media platform.
The possibility of a big Covid rebound in China over the
next two or three months is remote as 80 percent of people have been
infected, Wu said.