China's deaths outnumbered births for the first time in 60 years according to the data released on January 17, The Diplomat reported. However, the National Bureau of Statistics of China in a press conference refused to reveal the number of deaths that took place in December.
As per the news report, it is a common technique used by China's authorities to release only aggregated data, leaving room for ambiguity that can be manipulated to showcase "a rosier picture when necessary." Officially, China has not admitted to any shortcomings in the COVID-19 statistics.
The National Bureau of Statistics reported a total of 10.41 million deaths in 2022, averaging 867,500 deaths per month. The announced 59,938 COVID-19-related deaths over a month, showcased 7 per cent of 2022's monthly average deaths, which is in no way consistent with reports from crematoriums suddenly overwhelmed by an increase in demand, according to The Diplomat.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson have been routinely insisting that China "has been sharing information and data with the international community in timely, open and transparent manner" as per the law, as per the news report.
Seeing collective data and anecdotal accounts, it is difficult to downplay the significance of China's decision to reverse its "zero-COVID policy," which Chinese President Xi Jinping has termed a 'national and personal victory.' China had been adhering to stringent lockdowns, travel restrictions in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.
On January 18, Xi Jinping made his first statement on the wave of infections that followed China's reopening, stressing that he was "most worried about its spread in China's vast countryside, where medical services and resources are insufficient." The following day, health authorities in China said that critical COVID-19 cases have peaked in country's hospitals.
Last month, China abondoned its zero COVID policy and has been limited to the provincial level. On December 24, the National Health Commission halted its daily data release. In the first two weeks of the post-COVID zero era, the government announced "implausibly low case numbers (only thousands of new cases per day nationwide).
On January 14, China reported 59,938 COVID-19-related deaths between December 8 and January 12, a massive rise compared to the previous cumulative official death toll of 5,272 over three years. Yet this is likely still an underestimation.
Authorities face challenges in tracking case numbers, the drastically "low official death tolls are more likely the result of deliberate concealment than logistical difficulty." Chinese social media posts showcase local authorities calling on people to sign documents claiming that their releatives causes of death was not linked to COVID-19. Doctors have been discouraged from mentioning COVID-19 on death certificates, as per The Diplomat report.
In places like Shanghai and Zhejiang, government and health officials released shocking estimates through targeted data collection, according to The Diplomat. Zhejiang province reported about 1 million new cases a day on December 25, calculated by a "case monitoring and sampling survey in local communities." A leading Shanghai doctor on January 3 claimed that up to 70 per cent of Shanghai's population had been infected.
Satellite images have revealed long queues of vehicles outside funeral homes in some Chinese cities at the end of December, as per the news report. Traffic flows at one funeral home in Guangzhou and another in Shenyang were more crowded over the last month than they had been in the past five to 10 years. The high demand at morgues was corroborated by staff interviews showing their workload has doubled or tripled.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
First Published: Jan 22 2023 | 7:30 AM IST