Amid Staggering Estimates, China Halts COVID Data

Nation will no longer publish daily case counts; reports suggest about 20% of country is infected
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2022 5:35 AM CST
Amid Staggering Estimates, China Halts COVID Data
A worker in protective gear attends to visitors at the emergency department of a hospital in Bazhou city in northern China's Hebei province.   (AP Photo)

By nearly all accounts, the number of COVID cases in China is exploding. Just don't look for official counts anymore from the government. Beijing's National Health Commission said this weekend that it would no longer publish daily case counts, reports NPR. The commission will instead delegate such data to a lesser agency, and there was no indication how frequently new information would be made public. Just how fast is the virus spreading? Bloomberg reports that internal minutes of an NHC meeting this week suggest that 248 million people were infected in the first 20 days of December, or about 18% of the population.

The official tallies being reported by the government seemed to be way low anyway, per the New York Times. On Friday, for example, the NHC reported 4,000 new cases nationwide. But various municipalities independently reported far higher counts—1 million new cases per day in Zhejiang Province, for example, and 500,000 per day in the city of Qingdao. The surge comes in the wake of China relaxing its "Zero COVID" policies, which has made counting cases more difficult. Instead of mandatory testing, people can now take rapid tests on their own and are not obligated to report the results. (One prediction suggests China could see 2 million COVID deaths next year.)

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