China’s health authorities have said the Covid wave is past its peak, with rapid decline in both severe cases and deaths in hospitals, but experts remain wary of the government’s official data. According to China’s Center for Disease Control (CDC), the number of critically ill patients in hospital peaked in the first week of January, then rapidly declined by more than 70%. The number of deaths also reached its highest level that week, the data said.
Prof Chi Chun-huei, director of the centre for global health at Oregon University, said local officials were incentivised – via punishments and rewards – to under-report infection figures during the zero-Covid policy. Now that policy was gone, they were incentivised to exaggerate infection rates and under-report deaths.
“Most international experts know this very well – China’s statistics are very unreliable,” he said.