China Stops Reporting Covid Tally as Data Criticism Grows
China hasn’t updated its daily Covid reports for three days, adding to global concerns that the information vacuum is masking the true impact of the world’s biggest outbreak.
(Bloomberg) -- China hasn’t updated its daily Covid reports for three days, adding to global concerns that the information vacuum is masking the true impact of the world’s biggest outbreak.
The last time the country published its daily Covid situation update, including cases — though they’d already been rendered meaningless by the roll back of frequent testing — and the number of severely ill patients and deaths, was on Monday. While there hasn’t been an official notification about the cessation, health officials said last month that China would switch to monthly reports as part of its downgrade of virus management, without providing a specific date for the change.
Calls by Bloomberg News to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the disease control unit affiliated with the National Health Commission weren’t answered.
The lack of information on the impact of China’s abrupt pandemic pivot last month is fueling concerns around the world that the unmitigated spread of the virus could seed mutations, and has prompted a slew of countries to introduce measures targeting travelers from the country. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization renewed its call for more Covid data from China and emphasized the need to share information about the strains circulating, as well as whether cases are rising or falling in certain cities and rural areas.
Read more: WHO Renews Call for More Covid Data From China to Assess Risk
China has been sharing information and data with the international community “in an open and transparent manner,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said during a regular briefing on Thursday in Beijing. It’s had in-depth communication with the WHO on the current situation, variants and vaccinations, he said.
The apparent end of China’s daily report in the middle of a record wave of infections stands at odds with other countries that continue to release information publicly even after shifting to live with the virus. Major regional hubs in Asia including Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and South Korea report daily figures. New Zealand continued to report Covid cases daily for months after their reopening before switching to weekly releases.
After the initial Wuhan outbreak that overwhelmed the health system in early 2020, China’s daily updates became the gold standard for information on every infection in the country due to the extensive testing and tracing efforts that underpinned Covid Zero.
But the case numbers became unreliable over the last month after China dropped mass testing and other control measures. And its fatalities figures have drawn criticism due to officials’ narrow definition of what they consider a Covid death.
China has reported fewer than 40 deaths since the major pivot away from Covid Zero in early December. But the tally contrasts with on-the-ground reports of overwhelmed funeral parlors and crematoriums across the country.
In Monday’s report, officials said there were 7,557 severe cases nationwide, an increase of more than 1,100 from a day earlier. There were about 14,000 new confirmed cases on Sunday.
Read more: Bodies Pile Up in China as Covid Surge Overwhelms Crematoriums
--With assistance from .
(Updates with China response in fifth paragraph.)
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