China’s Covid deaths expected to hit 36,000 a day during holiday


China is likely to see 36,000 Covid deaths a day during the Lunar New Year holidays, making it one of the most deadly periods of the pandemic, according to an updated analysis of the largest outbreak the world has yet experienced.
The revised figures from the independent forecasting firm Airfinity Ltd. added 11,000 deaths a day to its December 29 estimate, a jump that shows the breathtaking pace of the outbreak and the lack of clear information about how it’s spreading in the world’s most populous nation. The update is based on data from China’s regional provinces combined with rates seen in other Covid Zero countries after they first lifted restrictions, the London-based research firm said.
China will likely experience “one longer, more severe Covid wave”, rather than repeat peaks and valleys, as the traditional festival marked by millions of people returning home to reunite with their families fuels high levels of virus transmission, according to the predictive health analytics company that’s been tracking the pandemic.
“Our forecast estimates a significant burden on China’s healthcare system for the next fortnight,” said Matt Linley, Airfinity’s analytics director. “It is likely that many treatable patients could die due to overcrowded hospitals and lack of care.”
The Tuesday update takes into account reports that suggest infections have already peaked in some provinces, including Henan, Gansu, Qinghai and Yunnan, it said. Analytic indicators suggest the virus spread more quickly than anticipated to rural areas, partly driven by people traveling for the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Airfinity estimates that cumulative Covid deaths in China stand at 608,000 since December. Officially, China reported nearly 60,000 Covid-related deaths among hospitalized patients for the first five weeks of the current outbreak.
China’s Covid death tally is likely just a fraction of true toll
People in China can travel freely for Lunar New Year, the country’s most important holiday, for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began. The annual ritual of family reunion involving billions of trips was sharply curtailed during the past three years as the government urged people to “celebrate where you are” to avoid spreading the virus.
Officials estimate the number of trips over the holiday period will hit 2.1 billion this year — double that of last year, but still just 70% of the level seen in 2019.

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