China reported nearly 13,000 Covid-related deaths in hospitals between January 13 and 19 after a top health official said the vast majority of the population had already been infected.
The death toll came a week after China said nearly 60,000 people had died in hospitals with Covid in just over a month – but there has been widespread skepticism about official data since Beijing abruptly halted antivirus controls last month.
China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement Saturday that 681 hospitalized patients died from respiratory failure caused by coronavirus infection and 11,977 died from other diseases over the period died of an infection.
Figures do not include people who died at home.
Airfinity, an independent forecasting company, has estimated that daily Covid deaths in China will peak at around 36,000 during the Lunar New Year holiday.
The company also estimated that more than 600,000 people have died from the disease since China abandoned the zero-Covid policy in December.
China has passed the peak time of Covid patients in fever clinics, emergency rooms and those in critical conditions, Guo Yanhong, an official with the National Health Commission, told a news conference on Thursday.
“No second wave”
Tens of millions of people have traveled across the country in recent days for long-awaited reunions with families to celebrate the Lunar New Year on Sunday, stoking fears of new outbreaks.
China’s transportation authorities have forecast more than two billion journeys will be made this month through February in one of the world’s largest mass movements of people.
President Xi Jinping on Wednesday expressed concern about the spread of the virus in rural China, many of which lack medical resources.
However, a senior health official said China will not see a second wave of infections in the months following the festive migration as nearly 80 percent of the population has already been infected with the virus.
“Although a large number of travelers during the Spring Festival may promote the spread of the epidemic to some extent… the current epidemic wave has already infected about 80 percent of the people in the country,” Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the CDC, said Saturday in a post on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform.
“In the short term, say in the next two to three months, the possibility of a … second wave of the epidemic across the country is very slim.”
Residents in central China’s Wuhan, where the first coronavirus infections were reported in late 2019, celebrated the arrival of the Year of the Rabbit with fireworks, flowers and offerings for loved ones lost to the virus on Saturday night.