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WHO urges China to release more information on COVID-19 after Beijing reports 60,000 coronavirus-related deaths

World Health Organization urges China to continue publishing COVID-19 data after Beijing reported nearly 60,000 coronavirus-related deaths since Dec. 8 on Saturday.

Beijing’s announcement was the first official toll since the ruling Communist Party abruptly dropped virus restrictions in December despite a rise in infections that flooded hospitals. This left the WHO and other governments asking for information, while the United States, South Korea and other countries imposed controls on Chinese visitors.

A woman and children wearing face masks walk next to masked travelers waiting in a departure hall to catch their trains at West Railway Station in Beijing, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023.

A woman and children wearing face masks walk next to masked travelers waiting in a departure hall to catch their trains at West Railway Station in Beijing, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023.
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Previously, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported only 36 deaths between December 7 and January 8, according to the Washington Post.

In the revised death toll, Beijing said 5,503 people died of respiratory failure caused by COVID-19 and there were 54,435 deaths from cancer, heart disease and other conditions. associated with COVID-19 between December 8 and January 12.

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The latest figures marked a significant increase from the previous dubiously low death total of 10,775 since the disease was first discovered in Wuhan in 2019.

The WHO said Beijing’s announcement on Saturday “helps to better understand the epidemiological situation.”

Patients lie on beds and stretchers in a corridor of a hospital's emergency department amid the coronavirus outbreak in Shanghai, China January 4, 2023.

Patients lie on beds and stretchers in a corridor of a hospital’s emergency department amid the coronavirus outbreak in Shanghai, China January 4, 2023.

He said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke by phone with Health Minister Ma Xiaowei.

“WHO has requested that this type of detailed information continue to be shared with us and the public,” the agency said.

The National Health Commission said only deaths in hospitals were counted, meaning anyone who died at home would not be included. He gave no indication of when or if he might release updated figures.

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A health official said the “national emergency peak has passed” based on an 83% drop in the daily number of people visiting fever clinics from the December 23 peak.

China only counted deaths from pneumonia or respiratory failure in its official toll, which rules out many deaths that could be attributed to the virus in other countries.

Meanwhile, high-speed train service resumed between mainland China and Hong Kong on Sunday under restrictions that allow 5,000 passengers on each side to make the journey daily and require a negative virus test within the previous 48 hours. .

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The two sides are reopening travel connections that were suspended as part of Beijing’s “zero-COVID” strategy, which aimed to prevent the virus from entering China. Hong Kong has imposed different but equally severe restrictions that have blocked most international travel.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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