2 COVID-19 deaths reported in Beijing as virus surges – ABC News

by | Dec 19, 2022 | COVID-19

BEIJING — China’s health authorities on Monday announced two COVID-19 deaths — the country’s first reported fatalities in weeks — amid an expected surge of illnesses after it eased its strict “zero-COVID” approach.Unofficial reports point to a widespread wave of new coronavirus cases, and relatives of victims and people who work in the funeral business said deaths tied to COVID-19 were increasing. Those people spoke on condition of not being identified for fear of retribution. Before Monday’s two reported deaths — both in Beijing — China had not reported a death from COVID-19 since Dec. 4. With those fatalities, the National Health Commission raised China’s total to 5,237 deaths from COVID-19 in the past three years, out of 380,453 cases of illness. Those numbers are much lower than in other major countries but also are based on statistics and information-gathering methods that have come into question.Chinese health authorities count only those who died directly from COVID-19, excluding people whose underlying conditions such as diabetes and heart disease were worsened by the virus. In many other countries, guidelines stipulate that any death where the coronavirus is a factor or contributor is counted as a COVID-19-related death.China had long hailed its restrictive “zero-COVID” approach as keeping case numbers and deaths relatively low, comparing itself favorably to the U.S., where the death toll has topped 1.1 million.Yet the policy of lockdowns, travel restrictions, mandatory testing and quarantines placed China’s society and the national economy under enormous stress, appa …

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