China on Tuesday said only Covid deaths due to “respiratory failure” were counted in its official death toll, as the country saw a spike in infections caused by the virus. new variants of the strain Omicron caused.
Beijing, which was hit by the BF.7 variant of the Omicron strain, announced five more deaths in addition to two on Monday, the first official deaths since the government gave up. strict anti-virus controls earlier this month after anti-virus measures spread. government opposes Zero-Covid policy.
According to health officials, Chinese cities are currently being hit by highly transmissible strains of Omicron, mainly BA.5.2 and BF.7.
On Tuesday, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) clarified that only Covid-19 patients who died of respiratory failure were counted in the official death toll. The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported that the clarification came after media reports that many people had died after being infected amid demand at funeral homes. and crematoriums increased.
The commission issued a notice clarifying how it calculates the number of deaths from the virus in what it calls a “scientific and factual way”.
The new guidelines narrow the criteria for counting Covid-19 deaths, eliminating cases like patients having a heart attack after being infected.
“Deaths from pneumonia and respiratory failure due to Covid-19 will be classified as Covid-19 deaths, while deaths due to other underlying conditions, such as cardiovascular and cardiovascular disease cerebral hemorrhage, will not be counted as a death due to Covid”, the article wrote. quoted Wang Guiqiang, an advisor to the NHC and director of the infectious disease department at Peking University No. 1 Hospital as saying on Tuesday.
Wang said Omicron, the variant driving the current increase in infections, is becoming less lethal and China is increasing vaccination rates, which means the pattern of infection and death is changing. change.
In the early stages of the outbreak, which began in downtown Wuhan in December 2019, most deaths were caused by respiratory failure caused by the coronavirus. But now, he said, Omicron mainly attacks the upper respiratory tract, and while some patients may develop pneumonia, a few will develop respiratory failure.
“From clinical practice, it can be seen that the main cause of death after Omicron infection is chronic disease, while respiratory failure directly caused by Covid-19 infection is rare,” Wang said.
“We are not hiding [talking about] danger of Covid-19, but at the same time we have to look at it from a scientific perspective,” he said.
When asked about China’s report of Covid-19 deaths, Benjamin Cowling, head of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Hong Kong, said the number of reported deaths since since restrictions are eased is a bit smaller than we expected, but in line with the overall trend. PCR test rate is low in China now.
“I think there are Covid-19 deaths in China that are not laboratory-confirmed and therefore are not counted in the official statistics, but that is true anywhere in the world and it is not. must be something unique to China,” he told the Post on Monday. .
Meanwhile, Beijing is experiencing a large wave of the BF.7 Omicron virus.
By one estimate, more than 70% of Beijing’s population has been infected with the virus, forcing millions to stay indoors.
Those infected with the virus include many diplomats in Beijing, their families as well as journalists in addition to a large number of city residents.
For several days together, Beijing took on a desolate look with little traffic on the city’s streets.
The defining feature of the crisis is that China has lost the number of cases when it stopped testing publicly for almost two weeks.
As a result, people are forced to buy antigen self-test kits that are currently being sold at exorbitant prices.
Hospitals in Beijing are facing staff shortages and a spike in patient numbers since the policy change, the Post reports.
Many residents in the capital are struggling to get medicine, with long lines at hospitals and a spike in ambulance calls.
With confusion over how the government is handling the virus, there are growing concerns about how to protect the millions of elderly people in China, most of whom are unvaccinated.
Elderly people aged 65 and over exceed 200 million, accounting for 14.2% of China’s population as of the end of 2021, the state-run Global Times reported.
The data show that elderly people with underlying diseases and complications such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases are more susceptible to severe cases.
“It is necessary to establish a hierarchical diagnosis and treatment system for the elderly, which can better diagnose and treat them based on their health condition,” said Chen Erzhen, deputy director Ruijin Hospital in Shanghai said.
Leading Chinese epidemiologists say the epidemic will peak in January and February, although the number of infections will continue to increase in the short term.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)
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