China Claims to be Past the COVID-19 Peak; Experts Wary of Official Figures

Representational image.

(Xinhua/Jin Liwang/IANS)

China’s health authorities have said that the COVID-19 wave is past its peak, with a rapid decline in severe cases and hospital deaths, but experts remain wary of the government’s official data.

According to China’s Center for Disease Control (CDC), the number of critically ill patients in hospitals peaked in the first week of January and then rapidly declined by more than 70%.

The CDC data revealed that the number of deaths also reached its highest level that week.

Prof Chi Chun-huei, director of the centre for global health at Oregon University, said local officials were incentivised, via punishments and rewards, to under-report infection figures during the zero-COVID policy.

Now that policy was gone, they were incentivised to exaggerate infection rates and under-report deaths, the Guardian reported.

“Most international experts know this very well. China’s statistics are very unreliable,” he said.

COVID cases have swept across China recently, escalating rapidly after the government suddenly ended its zero-COVID policy in early December 2022.

Last week a senior health official said 80% of people had been infected in this wave, although the source of these figures was unclear.

According to the data, there were 128,000 critically ill COVID patients in Chinese hospitals on January 5, the highest number reached during this wave.

It described a peak inside hospitals over the western new year, with almost 10,000 new critically ill cases a day from December 27 to January 3, the Guardian reported.

By January 23, the number of critically ill cases had dropped by 72% to about 36,000. The number of hospital deaths reached its highest point on January 4, with 4,273 recorded, before falling 79% by January 23 to 896.


The above article has been published from a wire source with minimal modifications to the headline and text.