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China Reports First COVID Deaths After Relaxing Strict Anti-Virus Controls

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China Reports First COVID Deaths After Relaxing Strict Anti-Virus Controls

(CTN News) –  After the government loosened rigorous anti-virus regulations, China recorded its first COVID-related fatalities in weeks on Monday.

However, there are growing concerns that the official total may not fully reflect the severity of the sickness ravaging urban areas.

The two fatalities on Monday were the first confirmed by the National Health Commission (NHC) since December 3, just days before Beijing said it was removing restrictions that had mostly kept the virus in control for three years but had sparked large-scale demonstrations last month.

A COVID-19 crematorium in Beijing was lined up with hearses on Saturday, and Reuters journalists saw workers transporting the deceased into the facility while wearing hazmat suits. Reuters was unable to quickly determine if COVID caused the fatalities.

On China’s Weibo site, akin to Twitter, a hashtag about the two alleged COVID fatalities rose to the top trending topic on Monday.

One user questioned, “What is the purpose of incomplete statistics? Another person said, “Isn’t this defrauding the public?”

A request for comment from the NHC did not get a prompt response.

The low mortality toll after lifting the limitations on December 7 contrasts with what other nations have seen following similar actions.

Including the most recent two fatalities, China has officially reported just 5,237 COVID-related deaths during the epidemic, a negligible portion of its 1.4 billion population.

However, medical professionals have warned that China may pay the price for adopting such severe measures to protect a populace that lacks COVID-19 natural immunity and has poor vaccination rates among the elderly.

Some people fear In the next months, the number of COVID fatalities in China may surpass 1.5 million.

Respected Chinese news organization Caixin first claimed on Friday that two state media journalists had died after getting COVID; on Saturday, it reported the death of a 23-year-old medical student.

Which, if any, of these fatalities were counted in the official death counts was not immediately known.

Yanzhong Huang, a global health expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank in the United States, said that “the (official) figure is an undercount of COVID mortality.”

According to him, this “may reflect the state’s inability to properly track and monitor the disease condition on the ground following the breakdown of the mass PCR testing system, but it may also be motivated by attempts to avert widespread panic over the spike in COVID fatalities.”

As opposed to the 2,097 symptomatic illnesses reported by the NHC, there were 1,995 on December 18.

But due to the recent softening, far less required PCR testing is being done, making infection rates a dubious indicator. Last Monday, the NHC ceased reporting asymptomatic cases, citing a decline in testing.

Monday saw a decline in China’s markets and a weakening of the yuan versus the dollar as investors became anxious that the escalating COVID-19 cases will further hamper the world’s second-largest economy despite promises of government help.

With sickness and absence reducing already sparse trading and prompting regulators to postpone a weekly meeting reviewing public share offerings, the virus was sweeping across trading floors in Beijing and quickly spreading in the financial center of Shanghai.

On Monday, a Japanese chipmaker, Renesas Electronics Corp. (6723.T), said that COVID-19 infections had forced it to halt operations at its Beijing factory.

World Economics released a study on Monday that revealed China’s business confidence dropped in December to its lowest level since January 2013.

This year, China’s GDP is predicted to expand by only 3%, which would be the poorest result in over 50 years.

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