China: 60,000 COVID-19 deaths in one month according to health authorities

A woman wearing a face shield and mask amid the Covid-19 pandemic walks on a street in the Jing'an district in Shanghai
A woman wearing a face shield and mask amid the Covid-19 pandemic walks on a street in the Jing'an district in Shanghai Copyright AFP
By Sarah PalmerAFP
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COVID-19 infections have been overwhelming China this winter - and concerns are growing for the undervaccinated elderly population.

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China announced on Saturday it has seen at least 60,000 deaths linked to the COVID-19 pandemic since the country lifted health restrictions a month ago.

"A total of 59,938 (deaths) were recorded between December 8, 2022 and January 12, 2023," health authority official Jiao Yahui told reporters.

This report does not take into account deaths recorded outside hospitals and other medical facilities.

Among these deaths, 5,503 were caused directly by respiratory failure linked to Covid-19, the official added.

After three years of some of the most draconian restrictions in the world, China abruptly lifted most of its health measures against coronavirus in early December.

Since then, the number of patients has grown rapidly. Hospitals have found themselves overwhelmed with elderly patients - and crematoriums are overwhelmed by the influx of bodies.

Beijing reviewed its methodology for accounting for Covid deaths in December. Only people who died directly from respiratory failure linked to the coronavirus are now included in the statistics.

This controversial change in methodology means that a large number of deaths are no longer listed as being due to the virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) last week criticised this new definition of a Covid death, deeming it "too narrow".

Beijing has castigated these criticisms and called on the WHO to adopt an "impartial" position on Covid. On Wednesday, the Chinese health authorities said that it was "not necessary" to dwell on the precise number of deaths linked to Covid.

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