China reported nearly 60,000 deaths in people who had COVID-19 since early December following complaints it was failing to release data, and said the “emergency peak” of its latest surge appears to have passed.
The toll included 5,503 deaths due to respiratory failure caused by COVID-19 and 54,435 fatalities from other ailments combined with COVID-19 since Dec. 8, the National Health Commission announced.
It said those “deaths related to COVID” occurred in hospitals, which left open the possibility more people also might have died at home.
The report would more than double China’s official COVID-19 death toll to 10,775 since the disease was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019.
China stopped reporting data on COVID-19 deaths and infections after abruptly lifting antivirus controls in early December despite a surge in infections that began in October and has filled hospitals with feverish, wheezing patients.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and other governments appealed for information after reports by city and provincial governments suggest as many as hundreds of millions of people in China might have contracted the virus.
The peak of the latest infection wave appears to have passed based on the decline in the number of patients visiting fever clinics, said a National Health Commission official, Jiao Yahui.
The daily number of people going to those clinics peaked at 2.9 million Dec. 23 and had fallen by 83% to 477,000 by Thursday, according to Jiao.