Covid data transparent, says China’s Health Ministry

“China has always been publishing information on COVID-19 deaths and severe cases in the spirit of openness and transparency,” Jiao Yahui, head of the Bureau of Medical Administration under the National Health Commission, said at a press briefing held on Thursday.

In the press conference, she noted that the criteria for judging Covid-19 deaths are divided into two categories.

Jiao said that some countries count only cases of people with positive nucleic acid test results after getting infected with the novel coronavirus and dying of respiratory failure induced by the virus, according to Xinhua.

While, some other countries, including all deaths within 28 days of positive COVID-19 tests. This means their toll could even include those who committed suicide or died in car accidents after contracting the virus.

“Since 2020, the COVID-19 death criterion we are adopting in China has been the first kind,” Jiao explained, saying that China counts a death from respiratory failure caused by the novel coronavirus after a positive COVID-19 test as a COVID-19 death.

This came after the World Health Organization on Friday urged China’s health officials to regularly share ‘specific and real-time’ information on the Covid-19 situation in the country as it still continues to assess the latest surge in infections, according to the news agency Reuters.

It has asked Chinese health officials to reveal more genetic sequencing data, as well as data on hospitalizations, deaths and vaccinations.

Previously, the WHO has predicted that China may be struggling to keep a tally of Covid-19 infections. However, the official figures from China have become unreliable guide as less testing is being done across the country.

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Meanwhile, the agency has also invited Chinese scientists to present detailed data on viral sequencing at its meeting of a technical advisory group scheduled for January 3, as per Reuters reports.

China’s National Health Commission and the National Disease Control and Prevention Administration briefed WHO on China’s evolving strategy and actions in the areas of epidemiology, monitoring of variants, vaccination, clinical care, communication and R&D.

Earlier, UK-based health data firm Airfinity had said around 9,000 people in China are probably dying each day from COVID-19.

As per the report, cumulative deaths in China since December 1 likely reached 100,000 with infections totalling 18.6 million. It says it uses modelling based on data from Chinese provinces before the recent changes to reporting cases were implemented. Airfinity expects China’s COVID infections to reach their first peak on January 13 with 3.7 million cases a day.

That is in contrast to the several thousands of cases reported by health authorities a day, after a nationwide network of PCR test sites was largely dismantled as authorities pivoted from preventing infections to treating them.

Airfinity expects deaths to peak on January 23 around 25,000 a day, with cumulative deaths reaching 584,000 since December.

Since December 7 when China made its abrupt policy U-turn, authorities have reported 10 COVID deaths. 

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom, France, India, the United States and Japan imposed new Covid-19 measures on travellers from China.

Canada is the latest in the list to impose Covid measures. It plans to temporarily require people flying from China, Hong Kong and Macao to test negative for COVID-19 before leaving for Canada.

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The requirement will apply to all air travelers aged two and older from the three countries and will begin on January 5, the federal government said in a news release Saturday.

“These planned health measures will apply to air travelers, regardless of nationality and vaccination status,” the release said. “They are temporary measures, in place for 30 days, that will be reassessed as more data and evidence becomes available.”

In November, China saw a record increase in local COVID-19 outbreaks. Due to the deterioration of the epidemiological situation, the authorities introduced partial lockdowns in some areas while also forcing their residents to undergo PCR testing on a daily basis.

In particular, starting from November 24, restrictive measures were tightened in a number of China’s major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. 

(With inputs from ANI)

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