One million new COVID-19 infections are reported daily in Zhejiang, a significant industrial province in China close to Shanghai; this number is projected to double over the coming days.
China reported no COVID deaths on the mainland for the five days up until Saturday, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Sunday, despite a record rise in cases nationwide.
As infections increased following Beijing’s radical revisions to the zero-COVID policy that had subjected hundreds of millions of its citizens to constant lockdowns and battered the second-largest economy in the world, citizens and experts called for more precise data.
As the National Health Commission stopped reporting asymptomatic infections, making it more difficult to track cases, national statistics from China had become insufficient.
The China CDC then released the data after the commission stopped releasing daily figures on Sunday.
Zhejiang is one of the few regions that can estimate recent spikes in infections, including cases without symptoms.
“The infection peak is estimated to arrive earlier in Zhejiang and to enter a period of elevated level around New Year’s Day, during which the daily new infection number will be up to two million,” the Zhejiang government said in a statement.
Among the 13,583 infections being treated in the hospitals of Zhejiang, which has a population of 65.4 million, one patient had severe symptoms brought on by COVID, while 242 infections with severe and critical conditions were brought on by underlying diseases.
World health experts expressed concern after China limited the definition of COVID deaths in its reporting, counting only those caused by pneumonia or respiratory failure due to the virus.
Since Beijing loosened its restrictions, the World Health Organization has not received any information from China regarding new COVID hospitalizations. According to the organization, the data gap may be caused by the authorities’ difficulties tallying cases in the nation with the largest population.
“China is entering the most dangerous weeks of the pandemic,” said a research note from Capital Economics. “The authorities are making almost no efforts now to slow the spread of infections and, with the migration ahead of Lunar New Year getting started, any parts of the country not currently in a major COVID wave will be soon.”
In recent times, the cities of Qingdao and Dongguan have both reported estimates of tens of thousands of daily COVID infections, which is significantly higher than the daily national toll without asymptomatic cases.
According to state media, the nation’s healthcare system has been under a great deal of stress as a result of staff members being asked to work while ill and even retired medical professionals in rural communities being rehired to support grassroots initiatives.
The approaching Lunar New Year in January, when a large number of people return home, strengthens the urgency.
In the previous week, there were 408,400 visits to Zhejiang fever clinics every day, which is 14 times more than usual.
According to a Hangzhou health official quoted on state television on Sunday, the number of daily requests to the emergency center in Zhejiang’s capital, Hangzhou, has recently increased by an average of more than triple compared to last year’s level.
The eastern city of Suzhou reported late on Saturday that a record 7,233 calls were placed to its emergency line on Thursday.
(Adapted from LiveMint.com)