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China Estimates That the Covid Outbreak Infected 37 million Individuals in a Single Day
According to estimates from the government’s main health authority, about 37 million people in China may have been infected with Covid-19 on a single day this week, making the country’s outbreak by far the world’s greatest.
According to minutes from an internal meeting of China’s National Health Commission conducted on Wednesday, which was validated by officials involved in the discussions, as many as 248 million people, or nearly 18% of the population, possibly caught the virus in the first 20 days of December. If confirmed, the infection rate would far exceed the previous daily record of about 4 million set in January 2022.
Virus and terror spread in China: what’s going on and why? The rapid removal of Covid Zero limits by Beijing has resulted in the unrestricted proliferation of highly contagious omicron variants in a population with low levels of natural immunity. According to the agency’s estimations, more than half of the population of Sichuan province in China’s southwest and the capital Beijing have been affected.
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The world’s largest outbreak is a drop in the bucket compared to China’s estimated 37 million daily infections.
It’s unclear how the Chinese health regulator arrived at its estimate, given that the country shut down its once-ubiquitous network of PCR testing booths earlier this month.
Precise infection rates in other countries have been difficult to ascertain throughout the pandemic, as difficult-to-obtain laboratory tests were replaced by home testing with findings that were not centrally gathered. The men who counted trains at New Delhi Railway Station – and got them wrong.
Bloomberg News faxed a request for comment that was not returned. On Friday, the commission’s newly formed National Disease Control Bureau, which manages the Covid response, did not reply to phone calls or faxes. In China, people use fast antigen testing to identify illnesses, and they are not required to report positive results. Meanwhile, the government has stopped disclosing the number of asymptomatic cases on a daily basis.
Based on an analysis of online keyword searches, Chen Qin, chief economist at data consultancy MetroDataTech, predicts that China’s current wave will peak between mid-December and late January in most cities. According to his model, the reopening spike is already responsible for tens of millions of infections every day, with the cities of Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Chongqing having the highest case numbers.
The minutes of the meeting make no mention of how many individuals died. They did quote Ma Xiaowei, the NHC’s chairman, who reiterated the new, considerably narrower criterion used to count Covid deaths. While recognizing that deaths will undoubtedly occur because of the virus’s rapid spread, he emphasized that only persons who die from Covid-induced pneumonia should be included in mortality statistics.
Officials say Beijing, which was affected initially, is seeing an increase in severe and serious Covid cases even as its general infection rate is decreasing. Meanwhile, the infection is moving from urban areas to rural China, where medical supplies are frequently in short supply. The agency cautioned all regions to brace themselves for a surge in severe sickness.
China’s Covid rise prompts India’s warning. The estimated 37 million daily cases for December 20 represent a significant increase beyond the official figure of only 3,049 infections registered in China on that day. It is also several times higher than the previous pandemic global record. According to Bloomberg data, global cases reached an all-time high of 4 million on January 19, 2022, during an initial wave of omicron infections following its discovery in South Africa.
The magnitude of infection predicted by government estimates highlights the issue China faces after abruptly abandoning the Covid Zero policy that had largely kept the virus at bay for the previous three years. Hospitals in major Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have been swamped by an unexpected rise of patients, while crematoriums are struggling to keep up with the deluge of the dead.
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