China weekly COVID-19 deaths halve as country returns from holiday

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China’s official COVID-19 death tally almost halved in the seven days following the Spring Festival Holiday, suggesting the massive wave of infections that spread across the country in the past few weeks may be abating.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Saturday that 3,278 deaths were linked to COVID-19 at hospitals across the country between January 27 and February 2.

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That compared to over 6,300 in previous week. In the latest seven-day tally, 131 died from respiratory failure and 3,147 from other underlying diseases but were infected with COVID-19, the center said.

January 27 was the last day of the week-long Spring Festival holiday when millions travel across the country for family reunions.

Still, the true toll could be much bigger because officials are only counting people who die at hospitals, ignoring any deaths that occur at home or in aged-care facilities. Mortality rates in other countries as they exited Covid Zero policies indicate China’s total should be higher.

China’s pandemic pivot in early December led to a record wave that infected tens of millions of people a day. The nation’s chief epidemiologist indicated this month that more than 1.1 billion people had been infected since the controls were dismantled.

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