by Bernard Orr and Martin Quin Pollard
BEIJING (Reuters) – The number of COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care in Chinese hospitals has peaked, Chinese health authorities said on Thursday, as travel within the country increased during the period. parties, raising fears of a resurgence of the epidemic.
Official data on the country’s health situation has been met with skepticism since Beijing last month lifted health restrictions that had protected the country’s 1.4 billion people for three years.
Chinese authorities said last Saturday that nearly 60,000 people with COVID-19 had died in hospitals between Dec. 8 and Jan. 12, about ten times more than previously reported figures.
This figure, however, excludes people who died at home, and several doctors in the country said they were discouraged from mentioning the coronavirus as a cause of death on certificates.
With travel ramping up during the Lunar New Year holidays, the coronavirus could kill up to 36,000 deaths a day, according to the latest forecast from British health data analytics firm Airfinity. Other experts predict more than one million deaths from the disease this year.
A National Health Commission official, however, told a press conference on Thursday that the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in fever treatment centers, emergency rooms and those in a state review had already passed its peak.
The number of patients admitted to hospital in critical condition fell by more than 40% on Jan. 17 from the peak seen on Jan. 5, an official said.
(Reporting Bernard Orr, Martin Quin Pollard, Beijing Bureau, writing by John Geddie; French version Dagmarah Mackos, editing by Kate Entringer)