China reports nearly 60k Covid deaths in five weeks

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The National Health Commission of China revealed a total of 59,938 COVID-19-related deaths between December 8, 2022, and January 12 this year, explaining that the spike in cases is because of relaxing the Covid policy on December 7…reports Asian Lite News

China on Saturday announced that nearly 60,000 Covid-19 deaths were reported since the country lifted its strict “Zero Covid Policy” on December 7, last year, Global Times reported citing National Health Commission.

The National Health Commission of China revealed a total of 59,938 COVID-19-related deaths between December 8, 2022, and January 12 this year, explaining that the spike in cases is because of relaxing the Covid policy on December 7. NHC official Jiao Yahui, who revealed the Covid-19 data, said that the average age of those who died in the period was 80.3 years old, with 90.1 per cent of the fatalities above 65 years old, and 56.5 per cent aged above 80 years old; more than 90 per cent suffered from underlying conditions, according to Global Times.

China has insisted on classifying deaths of patients with a positive nucleic acid test as COVID-19-related deaths, which is in line with the WHO and international standards, Jiao noted.

She further added that the causes of death are twofold one is respiratory failure and death, or underlying diseases interacting with the coronavirus leading to death.

Among the reported 59,938 COVID-19 deaths, 5,503 were due to respiratory failure caused by the virus, and 54,435 were from underlying conditions interacting with epidemic infection, according to the Global Times citing NHC.

Jiao said that winter is the season during which respiratory and other diseases interact often impacting the elderly, thus relatively large proportions of elderly people have been victims of the current wave of the epidemic.

This reminds us to focus more on elderly patients and try our best to save lives, she added.

In response to reports that China has been playing down the number of deaths caused by COVID, Liang Wannian, head of the expert panel overseeing the national COVID-19 response, was quoted by media as saying last month that it is hard to obtain an accurate grasp of the death rate during peak infections. Such assessment can only be made after the infection ebbs away, and the current stage at the time should focus on preventing severe and fatal cases, said Liang, reported Global Times.

China will publish COVID-19 data as a normal Class-B disease, a National Administration of Disease Prevention and Control official said at the Saturday conference. The CDC is in charge of publishing the number of severe and fatal COVID-19 cases.

The NHC officials said both the infection numbers and figures of severe cases had already reached the tapering point.

The number of severe COVID-19 cases reached a peak on January 5, standing at 128,000, according to Jiao, who also noted that the number was down to 105,000 as of January 12 and that 75.3 per cent of beds for severe cases were occupied.

Jiao said that as of January 12, more than 5,000 county-level hospitals have received 301,000 patients, accounting for 23.7 per cent of the nationwide total, despite showing a seven-day consecutive decline. Furthermore, 15.1 per cent of COVID-19 cases with severe symptoms nationwide were identified in county-level medical institutes, according to Global Times. (ANI)

Estimated GDP growth out of reach for Beijing: World Bank

Amid multiple domestic and international reverses due to its zero-Covid policy and assertiveness, China is unlikely to meet its estimated GDP growth rate, according to World Bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects report.

In China, growth is projected at 4.3 per cent in 2023–0.9 percentage points below previous forecasts. The second-largest economy in the world is now falling back in the race. Global growth is slowing sharply in the face of elevated inflation, higher interest rates, reduced investment, and disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the World Bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects report.

According to the World Bank reports, China’s high growth rate, based on investment, low-cost manufacturing and exports, has reached its limits and has led to economic, social and environmental imbalances, reported Financial Post.

Reducing these imbalances requires shifts in the structure of the economy from manufacturing to high-value services, from investment to consumption, and from high to low carbon intensity; none of which seems to be the priority of the mandarins of the ruling Communist Party of China.

To the detriment of Beijing, the property market has slowed down; triggered by the tightening of regulations that has led to a liquidity squeeze for developers. The demand for real estate has remained subdued due to weak sentiments of buyers of houses amid repeated outbreaks of Covid-19 and the refusal of buyers to invest in houses still under construction.

The slowing down of the real estate sector is having a cascading effect on the economy of China. In its anxiety to shore up an unsustainable rate of growth, the Chinese government has encouraged bad investment in the real estate sector. Aided by finance at concessional rates, real estate developers had a heyday. Now that the market is saturated and the demand for real estate has slumped, these real estate firms are unable to repay their debts, reported Financial Post.

In the face of structural constraints like a decline in the rate of growth of the labour force, diminishing returns on investment and the slowing down of the growth in productivity, the overall growth rate has come down.

The World Bank has pointed out that the Chinese economy is also vulnerable to climate change, the tightening of global financial conditions and heightened geopolitical tensions, for which Beijing itself is the worst culprit.

The damaging zero-Covid policy which Beijing finally abandoned in December 2022 has already taken its toll in manufacturing hubs like Shenzhen and Tianjin. Private studies have shown that factory output fell in September 2022, reported Finacial Post.

In places like Siachen and Chongqing where industries are dependent on hydroelectric power, severe heat waves have pushed up domestic demand for power by way of increased use of air-conditioners while generation has come down because of drought-like conditions.

This has meant less power to the factories. iPhone makers Foxconn and Tesla have been forced to cut down working hours or shut down altogether for the paucity of power. Profits in the iron and steel industry which has been the engine of growth in China have come down by 80 per cent in the first seven months of the calendar year of 2022, reported Financial Post. (ANI)

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