Chinese cities reveal Covid-19 cases that far exceed national tally


Two Chinese cities reported daily Covid-19 cases that far surpassed the official national tally, in another illustration of the unreliability of data in a country grappling with infections after abruptly ending its zero-Covid approach.

The city of Dongguan, in the southern province of Guangdong, has 250,000 to 300,000 people being infected on a daily basis, the city’s health commission said on its WeChat account on Friday, citing model-based estimates and expert assessments.

The manufacturing hub had a population of about 10.5 million as of 2021.

Qingdao city, in the eastern province of Shandong, is seeing 490,000 to 530,000 daily cases based on data projections, according to a local newspaper report on Friday, citing the head of the city’s health commission.

Covid-19 cases have yet to peak in the city of some 10.3 million residents, the official said.

These local estimates show a huge discrepancy with the official tally of only 4,103 cases reported for China for Dec 23.

They also underscore the inaccuracy of government data, and point to the enormous challenge facing China after its rapid relaxation of Covid-19 rules.

In a further sign of the scale of the outbreak, minutes from an internal meeting of the top health authority on Wednesday showed that nearly 37 million may have been infected with Covid-19 on a single day.

Health officials on the island province of Hainan said on Friday infections are “increasing exponentially” and a further surge of cases is expected into New Year’s Day and the Lunar New Year holiday in January. They did not give specific numbers.

Hospitals in major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, have been overwhelmed, while crematoriums are struggling to cope.

In Dongguan, the health commission said as of Dec 22, there were 2,528 health care staff still working despite having fever or testing positive for Covid-19.



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