China’s National Health Commission (NHC) has stopped publishing daily Covid-19 data, amid concerns about the reliability of the figures after infections exploded in the wake of an abrupt easing of tough restrictions.“Relevant Covid information will be published by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention for reference and research,” the commission said in a statement, without specifying the reasons for the change or how frequently China CDC will update the public with new Covid information. The sudden halt to the reporting of daily infection and death totals comes as concerns grow around the lack of vital information made available since Beijing made sweeping changes to its zero-Covid policy that put hundreds of millions of its citizens under lockdown and battered the world’s second-largest economy.
Despite the record surge of infections, the NHC had reported no Covid deaths nationwide for four consecutive days before halting the data release. Last week China narrowed its definition of a Covid death, counting only those from Covid-caused pneumonia or respiratory failure. Last week the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that China might be struggling to keep a tally of Covid-19 infections. The WHO has received no data from China on new Covid hospitalizations since Beijing eased its restrictions. The lack of data transparency makes it difficult to monitor the scale of this latest Covid outbreak.
Officially, China has reported fewer than 10 Covid-related deaths in the past two weeks. Still, the surge in demand for crematoria has been interpreted as evidence that the real death toll is much higher. The UK-based health data firm Airfinity estimated last week that there are more than 1 million infections and more than 5,000 deaths per day in China, according to state media. As the Lunar New Year in January approaches the urgency increases and the lunar way travels across the country.