Chinas health authorities have said the Covid-19 wave is past its peak, with rapid decline in both severe cases and deaths in hospitals, but experts remain wary of the governments official data, the media reported.
According to China’s Center for Disease Control (CDC), the number of critically ill patients in hospital peaked in the first week of January, then rapidly declined by more than 70 per cent, says the Guardian report.
The number of deaths also reached its highest level that week, the CDC data revealed.
Prof Chi Chun-huei, director of the centre for global health at Oregon University, said local officials were incentivised, via punishments and rewards, to under-report infection figures during the zero-Covid policy.
Now that policy was gone, they were incentivised to exaggerate infection rates and under-report deaths, the Guardian reported.
“Most international experts know this very well, China’s statistics are very unreliable,” he said.
Covid cases have swept across China in recent months, escalating rapidly after the government suddenly ended its zero-Covid policy in early December 2022.
Last week a senior health official said 80 per cent of people had been infected in this wave, although it was not clear where the figures came from.
According to the data, there were 128,000 critically ill Covid patients in Chinese hospitals on January 5, the highest number reached during this wave.
It described a peak inside hospitals over the western new year, with almost 10,000 new critically ill cases a day from December 27 to 3 January, the Guardian reported.
By January 23,the total number of critically ill cases had dropped by 72 per cent to about 36,000.
The number of deaths in hospitals reached their highest point on January 4, with 4,273 recorded, before falling 79 per cent by January 23 to 896.