Despite a record surge of cases nationwide, China reported no COVID-19 deaths on the mainland for the six days through Sunday, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Sunday, even as crematories faced surging demand.
China has narrowed its definition for classifying deaths as COVID-related, counting only those involving COVID-caused pneumonia or respiratory failure, raising eyebrows among world health experts.
The country’s health care system has been under enormous strain, with staff being asked to work while sick and retired medical workers in rural communities being rehired to help, according to state media.
The provincial government of Zhejiang, a big industrial province near Shanghai with a population of 65.4 million, said on Sunday it was battling about a million new daily COVID-19 infections, a number expected to double in the days ahead.
Health authorities in the southeastern Jiangxi province have said infections would hit an apex in early January, adding that there could be other peaks as people travel next month for Lunar New Year celebrations, state media reported.
They warned that the wave of infections would last three months and that about 80 per cent of the province’s 45 million residents could get infected.
The city of Qingdao, in the eastern Shandong province, has estimated that up to 530,000 residents were being infected each day.
Cities across China have been racing to add intensive-care units and fever clinics, facilities designed to prevent the wider spread of contagious disease in hospitals.
The Beijing municipal government has said the number of fever clinics in the city had increased from 94 to almost 1,300, state media said. Shanghai has 2,600 such clinics and has transferred doctors from less-strained medical departments to help out.
Worries remain about the ability of less-affluent cities in China to cope with a surge in severe infections, especially as hundreds of millions of rural migrant workers are expected to return to their families for Lunar New Year.