A patient receives treatment at Peking University Third Hospital on January 3, 2023 in Beijing, China. Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images
China officially updated its COVID death toll numbers Saturday, linking nearly 60,000 deaths to COVID-19 since early December, the Associated Press reports, citing the country's top health leaders.
Why it matters: These official numbers — which are likely smaller than the actual tally — doubles China's official COVID death toll since the disease was first discovered there in 2019, per AP.
Driving the news: China's National Health Commission released a new COVID-19 death count from this winter when a surge of cases slashed through the country.
By the numbers: China reported 5,503 deaths from respiratory failure caused by COVID-19 and 54,435 fatalities from underlying medical conditions combined with the virus since early December, AP reports.
- That's up from the 37 fatalities reported between Dec. 7 and Jan. 8, according to the Washington Post.
- These numbers double China's official COVID-19 death toll to 10,775, per AP.
- The country previously reported only 5,272 deaths from COVID since the pandemic began, the Washington Post reports.
Yes, but: The NHC said the “deaths related to COVID” happened in hospitals, leaving open the possibility that more people died at home, AP reports.
What they're saying: The country said that the peak of the recent outbreak has likely passed.
- "The number of fever clinic visitors is generally in a declining trend after peaking, both in cities and rural areas," said Jiao Yahui, an official from the National Health Commission, per Reuters.
The big picture: China has been shy about releasing its full COVID-19 data and the actual death and case numbers might be higher. The country stopped reporting COVID-19 death data after lifting its COVID-19 rules and restrictions in December.
- Soon after the rules lifted, China saw a COVID "tsunami" as more deaths occurred. But at the time, China's official health authority did not report new official COVID deaths. The last fatality had been reported on Nov. 23.
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