China Reports 60K COVID Deaths in December

On Saturday, following intense scrutiny, China reported 60K deaths attributed to COVID since Dec. 8. The World Health Organization showed extreme concern that the country was underreporting after official reports only showed 36 deaths between Dec. 7 and Jan. 8.

China Reports 60K COVID Deaths in December
Image credit: Reuters [via PBS]

Facts

  • On Saturday, following intense scrutiny, China reported 60K deaths attributed to COVID since Dec. 8. The World Health Organization showed extreme concern that the country was underreporting after official reports only showed 36 deaths between Dec. 7 and Jan. 8.
  • The actual death toll likely exceeds the 59,938 reported by China because the number only accounts for the deaths that have occurred at medical facilities.
  • The death toll released on Saturday was China's first official report since the long-standing "zero-COVID" policy was abruptly abandoned. The PRC dropped the policy despite a surge in infections occurred filling hospitals to their maximum capacity.
  • Jiao Yahui of China's National Health Commission said on Saturday, that "the data show that the national emergency peak has passed." This announcement comes amid reports that medical facilities and funeral facilities are overflowing with infected or deceased residents.
  • WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has spoken with PRC health officials and has been provided the latest numbers from outpatient facilities, hospitalizations, emergency or critical cases, and deaths occurring in medical facilities. The data is currently being reviewed and WHO hopes the data will provide a clearer picture of the current wave overtaking the country.
  • While the true picture of infections in China is under scrutiny, travel between mainland China and Hong Kong resumed on Sunday, however, with some COVID restrictions still in place. Each side has limitations of 5K passengers per day, and each traveler is required to present a negative COVID test within the previous 48 hours.

Sources: FOX News, Daily Mail, Time, and CNN.

Narratives

  • Pro-China narrative, as provided by SCMP. While criticism of China's abrupt reopening remains, the world is starting to see the benefits of having China back on the market. The reopening has encouraged Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to increase China's GDP growth by 5 percent for 2023. People are returning to activities and to work, and that allows the PRC to better plan on wooing business investments and tourists.
  • Anti-China narrative, as provided by Financial Times. Beijing's ability to exercise authoritarian rule over its people while keeping them "safe" has been tested. The result was a failure. The government botched reopening from the pandemic and exposed the PRC's lack of preparation when residents found themselves infected with the inability to locate or purchase the simplest of medications. China now finds itself in a humanitarian crisis with the world looking on.