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Zhejiang’s daily increase in “Covid Positive” exceeded one million China stopped publishing daily “Epidemic Information”

Shanghai citizens wait at the fever clinic of a hospital. (24 December 2022)
Shanghai citizens wait at the fever clinic of a hospital. (24 December 2022)

HONG KONG — After China fully relaxed epidemic prevention controls, the epidemic situation suddenly deteriorated and the number of infected people soared. Zhejiang Province reported that the number of new daily positives in the local area exceeded one million, and Gao Feng is expected to arrive early. Qingdao, Shandong, and Dongguan, Guangdong also took the initiative to disclose that hundreds of thousands of people are infected every day. China’s National Health Commission, which has continuously released new crown epidemic information for nearly three years, said on December 25 that it will no longer publish daily epidemic information from now on, and the CDC will release relevant epidemic information instead.

Over the past week, Chinese authorities have reported between 2,000 and 4,000 new daily confirmed cases nationwide. The outside world generally believes that the figure is low and can only be used as a reference.

The data released by the Zhejiang provincial government at the epidemic press conference on December 25 is very different from the data released by the Health Commission. Officials said that in the past week, the highest number of visits to fever clinics in the province in a single day was 408,400, which is 14 times the usual number of fever clinics in the province. At present, the number of new positive people in Zhejiang has exceeded 1 million per day, and the proportion of confirmed cases has not been explained.

Yu Xinle, deputy director of the Zhejiang Provincial Health Commission, expects that around New Year’s Day, the epidemic situation in the province will enter a high plateau.

Yu Xinle said: “At present, the number of new daily positive reports in our province has exceeded 1 million, according to the results of recent case surveillance and community sampling surveys on the situation of infection has been predicted, our peak in Zhejiang is expected to arrive in advance, then after entering the peak, the daily new positive number is expected to reach a maximum of 2 million, then this peak period is expected to remain for about a week, and then it begins to fall.” ”

Hundreds of thousands of people are infected in Dongguan, Qingdao

The Qingdao Municipal Health Commission of Shandong Province also reported on December 23 that the number of new infections in the local area is currently about 490,000 to 530,000 per day, and the two days on the 24th and 25th will increase by 10% on this basis. Officials said that the peak of infection in Qingdao has not yet arrived, and it is in the rapid transmission stage before the arrival of Gao Feng, based on Qingdao’s population of more than 10 million, the daily new infections account for about 5% of the population, but relevant officials reiterated that Qingdao has established and improved a hierarchical and categorical diagnosis and treatment system to reduce the run on medical resources in the short term.

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According to comprehensive Chinese media reports, in addition to Zhejiang and Qingdao, many provinces and cities such as Guangdong, Sichuan, and Jiangxi are ushering in a new round of epidemic heights. Among them, the Guangdong Dongguan Municipal Health Bureau said in a WeChat public account on December 23 that the peak of infection is approaching, combined with mathematical prediction models and expert assessment, the current number of infected people in Dongguan is growing at a scale of 250,000 to 300,000 per day, and the growth rate is getting faster and faster, and medical institutions and medical staff are under unprecedented severe challenges and huge pressure. More than 2,500 healthcare workers still report to work with illness despite the disease or fever. Authorities say the real situation is certainly more serious because medical institutions encourage medical staff not to test unless necessary.

Ren Ruihong, former director of the medical aid department of the China Red Cross Foundation, told the media that the number of infections announced in Zhejiang Province and other places is obviously closer to the truth than the confirmed figures of the National Health Commission. Local governments can be understood to be overwhelmed by the pressure.

Ren Ruihong said: “The local government should let the world know about this real catastrophic epidemic. With a large number of infections, the health system cannot do what it currently does. I only have a few dozen hospitals, but now I’m adding hundreds of thousands of patients a day.” Who will tell me what I should do? My staff was all sick. No local government can afford such medical pressure.” Based on this mentality, they will publish medical data on their own. ”

Local governments may view herd immunity as a political achievement

Yokogawa, a Chinese commentator with a medical background living in the United States, told the media that many provinces and cities in China regard “herd immunity” as the ultimate goal, and the soaring number of infections may be a good opportunity for local governments to compete for performance.

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Yokogawa said: “The degree of disclosure varies from place to place, and a lot depends on how local government officials understand what the central government means. Some of them may understand it as ‘strive for the higher the positive, the better, the faster the better’. Some local governments regard this as a political achievement and will leak the news. In general, local newspaper reports can find many clues, and through the gray area, you can see some content that you usually do not see in the Central Party newspaper. ”

Bloomberg took the record of an internal meeting of China’s National Health Commission on December 21, estimating that nearly 37 million new infections were reported every day in the country in the week before and that as many as 248 million people, or nearly 18 percent of the population, could have been infected in the first 20 days of December. To Bloomberg’s report, China’s National Health Commission and the CDC have not yet responded.

Yokogawa said: “Western countries do not achieve pre-immunization ‘as soon as possible,’ but rather ‘slowly,’ reducing the peak of positive or severely ill patients. China is doing the opposite. The goal of Western policies is not to let the health system collapse in order to ensure that the seriously ill are treated. China, on the other hand, is ‘as fast as possible, shorter as possible,’ that is, it is ready to sacrifice a group of people. ”

Analysis: After the “optimization” of prevention and control, the place is still “one-size-fits-all”

In the eyes of the outside world, from the past “dynamic zeroing” to the current “new ten”, China’s local grassroots officials are inseparable from the “one-size-fits-all” law.

Chinese commentator "Yokogawa" with medical background living in the United States
Chinese commentator “Yokogawa” with medical background living in the United States

Yokogawa said, “Jumping from one extreme to the other. The epidemic situation is different everywhere. Even the situation with variant strains is different everywhere. All localities should have formulated a series of measures adapted to the local area, but China is not a decentralized system like the United States, and the center is highly centralized, so when formulating policies, each locality does not dare to formulate something that contradicts the central government. ”

The Beijing Municipal Epidemic Prevention and Control Working Group held a meeting on December 24, mentioning that the recent increase in the number of infected people in Beijing, the number of patients with underlying diseases will also rise, and the pressure on medical institutions continues to increase, requiring tertiary hospitals to maintain the bottom line of medical treatment and life support, and do everything possible to improve the cure rate and reduce the mortality rate.

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Ren Ruihong, a former executive of the China Red Cross Foundation in the United States, believes that under the “new ten”, the pressure of ordinary people everywhere is more than when the “dynamic zero” is cleared. She cited the family of a city in her hometown of Anhui as an example.

Ren Ruihong said: “Now the people have no time to think about what it has to do with me whether or not to loosen the bindings. All my relatives were infected and the symptoms were severe. They told me that it must be Yang walking on the street. The yin ones hid at home and did not dare to move. In places such as supermarkets and convenience stores, more than half of the population is working. They are all yang. Some still have a fever. You will feel the impact of the collapse of a country’s healthcare system. ”

The official website of China’s National Health Commission did not release the national epidemic data of the previous day as usual on December 25 but released a “note” saying that from now on, the “daily epidemic information” will no longer be released, and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention will release relevant epidemic information for reference and research.

According to China’s National Health Commission’s website, authorities began publishing daily coronavirus diagnoses and deaths at the beginning of the outbreak about three years ago, with the earliest notification from the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission on January 11, 2020.

On January 21 of the same year, the National Health Commission began to publish the epidemic data of the previous day in all provinces and cities across the country every day. As of December 14 this year, authorities no longer publish data on asymptomatic infections. The official reason provided is that nucleic acid testing implements a strategy of willing due diligence, many asymptomatic infected people no longer participate in nucleic acid testing, and the authorities cannot accurately grasp the actual number of patients involved.

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