Covid spike in China: Govt says no new deaths seen after changing criteria

The Chinese government said on Wednesday that there were no new deaths due to Covid on Tuesday after it changed the criteria for recording virus deaths. The move comes as China is seeing a spike in infections. 

According to the new criteria, only those Covid patients who directly died of respiratory failure caused by the virus would be counted under Covid death statistics. 

Earlier, patients who died of an illness while being infected with Covid were also counted as a virus death. This way of reporting Covid deaths accounted for a huge number of fatalities in other countries, according to a report by news agency AFP on Wednesday. 

Since the government announced the decision to lift the zero-Covid policy last week, China reported a total of seven virus deaths- all in the capital Beijing. However, one death was removed from the official tally given the changed criteria.

China has recorded more than 10 million Covid cases and over 31,370 deaths since the onset of the pandemic, according to figures shown by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

ALSO WATCH | WION Fineprint: Covid spreading in China after zero-covid policy eased

The current spike in infections, after the lifting of restrictions, is being caused by the Omicron subvariant BF.7. Hospitals and crematoriums across China are struggling to cope with the worsening pandemic situation. 

In the capital Beijing, a queue of about 40 hearses was seen at a crematorium in the Tongzhou district, according to a report by news agency Reuters on Wednesday. 

Funeral home workers said that some Beijing residents have to wait for days to cremate relatives or pay a steep fee to secure faster services. Last week, two Beijing funeral homes told AFP that there were operating round the clock, offering same-day cremation services to keep up with the recent surge in deaths. 

In Chongqing city, a crematorium worker said the building ran out of space to keep dead bodies. While in the central city of Changsha, two companies specialising in burial clothing told AFP on Wednesday that they saw an uptick in customers.

Meanwhile, a leading Chinese health expert has said that Beijing would face a surge in cases over the next two weeks, adding authorities must act quickly and prepare fever clinics, and emergency and severe treatment resources. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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