China’s National Health Commission (NHC) has reported that nearly 60,000 people have died of Covid since the country abandoned its zero-Covid policy in early December.
Health officials from the NHC said that cases have surged across the nation, according to Reuters.
Chinese President Xi Jinping faced unprecedented opposition as thousands of protestors demonstrated against his zero-Covid approach in cities throughout China, with some demonstrators openly calling for his resignation.
According to Jiao Yahui, head of the Bureau of Medical Administration under the NHC, between Dec. 8 and Jan. 12, the number of Covid-related deaths in Chinese hospitals totaled 59,938.
Of those, 5,503 were caused by respiratory failure due to Covid, and the remainder resulted from a combination of Covid and other related diseases.
Yahui said China divides Covid-related deaths between those from respiratory failure due to coronavirus infection and those from underlying disease combined with the infection.
“The standard is basically in line with those adopted by the World Health Organization and other major countries,” Reuters quoted her saying.
Yahui has said that the number of patients needing emergency treatment was declining, and the share of patients at fever clinics who tested positive for Covid-19 was also falling.
However, a Chinese health expert said that only deaths caused by pneumonia and respiratory failure after contracting Covid would be classified as Covid deaths. Heart attacks or cardiovascular diseases causing the death of infected people would not get that classification.
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In January, China reopened its borders to international tourists for the first time since it imposed COVID-19 restrictions in March 2020.
Mainland China opened sea and land crossings with Hong Kong, ending a requirement for incoming travelers to quarantine.
Chinese officials worry that the increase in travel related to the Lunar New Year celebration (which begins on Jan. 21) will bring a surge in Covid cases.
China’s air passenger volumes have recovered to 63% of 2019 levels since the annual travel season began on Jan. 7, Reuters quoted a Chinese industry regulator saying.
China’s transport ministry has predicted that passenger volumes would jump 99.5% during the year during the festival session or recover to 70.3% of 2019 levels.
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