China has reported just a few COVID-19 deaths since the country began lifting its strict lockdown regime in November, but evidence of mass deaths and funerals belies the official numbers, according to The New York Times.
Officially, seven people have died since Dec. 7, just after the government reversed the zero-COVID lockdown policy, but evidence from reporters and videos on social media, showing hearses crowding the streets and funeral homes overflowing with body bags, suggests the official count is much higher, the NYT reported Tuesday. Hospital staff reported being overworked and receiving little warning of the easing restrictions, leaving hospitals severely underequipped with treatments and facilities to care for the massive influx of patients.
A Shanghai hospital warned that up to half of the city’s 25 million residents could test positive at some point, telling hospital staff to prepare for a “tragic battle” in coming weeks, the NYT reported.
“In this tragic battle, all of Shanghai will fall, and all the staff of the hospital will be infected! Our whole families will be infected! Our patients will all be infected!” the now-deleted statement posted on Chinese social media platform WeChat read, according to the NYT. “We have no choice, and we cannot escape.”
The World Health Organization places China’s total COVID-19 death count at 31,585, or just over 0.3% of cases since January 2020. In comparison, the WHO logged 1,080,010 cumulative deaths out of 99,027,628 U.S. cases for a mortality rate of 1.1%.
There is evidence to suggest the government is concealing the full magnitude of the COVID-19 wave sweeping the country; nearly 37 million people may have been infected on one day, Bloomberg reported Friday, citing leaked minutes from a meeting of China’s National Health Commission held in the previous week. The country’s previous daily record stood at 4 million, a milestone reached in January 2022.
However, as many as 248 million people, or nearly 18% of the total population, contracted the virus within the first 20 days of December, Bloomberg reported, citing the meeting minutes and confirmation from individuals familiar with the discussions.
Rough estimates project China could suffer as many as one million deaths before the surge subsides, according to CNN.
Earlier in December, national authorities removed city officials’ power to shut down parts of the city, rescinded most testing requirements and allowed patients exhibiting mild symptoms to isolate at home, according to The Wall Street Journal.
China further lifted COVID-19 related international travel restrictions, including testing requirements for inbound travelers on arrival and international flight capacity restrictions, on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.
The Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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