(TibetanReview.net, Dec26’22) – With effect from Dec 25, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) stopped publishing daily Covid-19 case numbers amid huge questions over the credibility of its reports raised even by the World Health Organization (WHO) which has been deferring to Beijing ever since the global pandemic broke out from Wuhan City three years ago.
Earlier, in its weekly news conference on Dec 21, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu said that in order to make a comprehensive risk assessment of the situation on the ground in the country, WHO needed more detailed information on disease severity, hospital admissions, and requirements for intensive care units support in wake of increasing reports of severe disease.
The NHC didn’t provide a reason for the change in policy in its statement on Dec 24, but said the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention will release Covid-related info for studies and reference. It has been releasing daily figures on Covid-19 infections since Jan 21, 2020.
China has been reporting just a few thousands daily new cases and hardly any death in glaring contradiction of numerous other reports on the ground situation.
Two cities, Qingdao in the eastern province of Shandong and Dongguan – near Guangzhou in the southern province of Guangdong – released respective estimates of up to 500,000 daily cases, reported the scmp.com Dec 25. And Zhejiang, a big industrial province near Shanghai, is battling around a million new daily COVID-19 infections, a number expected to double in the days ahead, reported Reuters Dec 25, citing the provincial government.
The scrapping of daily Covid-19 releases came days after an unverified memo from an NHC meeting estimated that nearly 248 million – or about 18% of China’s population – had been infected between Dec 1 and 20. Nearly half of the population of Beijing and southwestern Sichuan province had been infected, the memo was cited as saying.
But the figures became meaningless since compulsory testing was abandoned as part of easing several zero-Covid measures earlier this month, noted the scmp.com report. The NHC reported 4,128 cases and no new deaths on Dec 24, a week after it narrowed the definition of Covid-19 deaths to only count those who died of respiratory failure caused by the coronavirus.
Despite the record surge of infections, the NHC had reported no Covid deaths nationwide for four consecutive days before halting the data release, noted theguardian.com Dec 25. It also did not report any death on Dec 25 too, noted the Reuters report.
And yet, the death toll keeps rising. A state-run funeral service centre in the southern city on Guangzhou, for example, suspended accepting new appointments for burial services until Jan 10 “due to the heavy pressure”, the theguardian.com report noted.
Nevertheless, with China’s Covid cases and mortality statistics consistently absent from the WHO pandemic dashboards, the world is left to believe that 81.2% of the global cases as of today are being contributed by 10 countries — Japan, South Korea, USA, France, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Australia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, noted the tribuneindia.com Dec 25.
The WHO remains optimistic, however, that the year 2023 will see a significant decline in Covid-19 and the outbreaks of other recent new infections in this world. On Dec 21, the WHO’s director-general said, “We are hopeful that each of these emergencies — Covid-19, mpox and Ebola — will be declared over at different points next year.”
He once again called on China to share the data requested by the global health body to better understand the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic.