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WHO appeals China to release more COVID-19 information after it reported 60,000 deaths

China has counted only deaths in Hospitals between early December and January 12

Covid testing in China (File) Residents line up for testing following COVID cases in Zhengzhou, Henan province in China | Reuters

The World Health Organization appealed to Chinese authorities to continue to release data on Covid-19 situation in the country, as they did by reporting 60,000 Covid-related deaths since early December on Saturday. 

The WHO and several nations have been demanding China to release transparent Covid data to better assess the situation and spread of Covid in the country. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke with Minister Ma Xiaowei, director of China’s National Health Commission on Saturday and appreciated the release of Covid data, a statement said.

Analysing the data, a WHO statement said, “The reported data indicate a decline in case numbers, hospitalizations, and those requiring critical care. WHO has requested a more detailed breakdown of data by province over time.”

The announcement Saturday was the first official death toll since the ruling Communist Party abruptly dropped anti-virus restrictions in December despite a surge in infections that flooded hospitals. That left the WHO and other governments appealing for information, while the United States, South Korea and others imposed controls on visitors from China.

The government said 5,503 people died of respiratory failure caused by COVID-19 and there were 54,435 fatalities from cancer, heart disease and other ailments combined with COVID-19 between December 8 and January 12.

China's National Health Commission said only deaths in hospitals were counted, which means anyone who died at home wouldn't be included. It gave no indication when or whether it might release updated numbers.

A health official said the national emergency peak has passed based on an 83 per cent decline in the daily number of people going to fever clinics from a December 23 high.

The report would more than double China's official COVID-19 death toll to 10,775 since the disease was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019. China has counted only deaths from pneumonia or respiratory failure in its official toll, which excludes many fatalities that might be attributed to the virus in other countries.

 Meanwhile, high-speed train service resumed Sunday between China's mainland and Hong Kong under restrictions that allow 5,000 passengers from each side to make the trip daily and require a negative virus test within the previous 48 hours.

The two sides are reopening travel links that were suspended under Beijing's zero-COVID strategy, which aimed to keep the virus out of China. Hong Kong imposed different but similarly severe restrictions that blocked most international travel.

(With PTI inputs.)


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