A rare state media report questioning the official Covid-19 death toll in China was promptly censored by the government as the country is battling a wave of infections.
State-run news portal Sixth Tone published the article related to the death of actor Wang Jinsong’s mother and cited people’s responses to his social media post relating their own experiences, as per a Hindustan Times report.
The post was deleted soon after, it said.
“The death of a Chinese celebrity’s mother from Covid-19 has put the spotlight on the vulnerability of older people to the disease and questions the extent of casualties caused by the coronavirus, as it spreads unchecked across the country,” the Sixth Tone report said.
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“Responding to the actor’s post on microblogging platform Weibo, many shared their experience of witnessing older family members die in recent days, even though death certificates didn’t attribute their deaths to Covid,” the article added.
“…many are starting to question the timing of the easing of the “zero-Covid” policy, which was marked by mass testing, quarantine, and lockdowns. Over the past two weeks, the surge in infections has triggered a series of disruptions in the country, including drug shortages, overstretched logistics, and weak consumption," the Sixth Tone article said.
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The Chinese government has reported only seven Covid deaths since restrictions were loosened dramatically on December 7, bringing the country’s total toll to 5,241. On Tuesday, a Chinese health official said that China only counts deaths from pneumonia or respiratory failure in its official Covid-19 death toll, as per the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, a report by Bloomberg news agency released on Friday estimated that nearly 37 million people in China may have been infected with Covid on a single day this week. The report cited minutes from an internal meeting of the country’s National Health Commission held on Wednesday.
Experts have forecast between a million and 2 million deaths in China next year, and the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that Beijing’s way of counting would “underestimate the true death toll," the AP reported.
The country is facing an unchecked wave of Covid-19 infections after an abrupt shift in the country’s containment policies. After widespread protests and a relentless rise in cases, China this month dismantled its “zero-covid" regime.
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