BEIJING (AP) — The World Health Organization has called on China to continue releasing information on its wave of COVID-19 infections after the government announced nearly 60,000 deaths since early December after weeks of complaints that he was failing to tell the world what was going on.
Saturday’s announcement was the first official tally since the ruling Communist Party abruptly dropped virus restrictions in December despite a rise in infections that flooded hospitals. That left the WHO and other governments asking for information, while the United States, South Korea and others imposed controls on visitors from China.
The government said 5,503 people died of respiratory failure caused by COVID-19 and there were 54,435 deaths from cancer, heart disease and other conditions associated with COVID-19 between December 8 and January 12.
The announcement “provides a better understanding of the epidemiological situation”, according to a statement from the WHO. He said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke by phone with Health Minister Ma Xiaowei.
“WHO has requested that this type of detailed information continue to be shared with us and the public,” the agency said.
READ MORE: What we know about the COVID-19 data China is sharing — and not sharing —
The National Health Commission said only deaths in hospitals were counted, meaning anyone who died at home would not be included. He gave no indication when or if he might release updated figures.
A health official said the “national emergency peak has passed” based on an 83% drop in the daily number of people visiting fever clinics from the December 23 peak.
The report would more than double China’s official COVID-19 death toll to 10,775 since the disease was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019. China only counted deaths due to pneumonia or respiratory failure in his official report, which excludes many deaths. that could be attributed to the virus in other countries.
Meanwhile, high-speed rail service resumed between mainland China and Hong Kong on Sunday under restrictions that allow 5,000 passengers on each side to make the journey daily and require a negative virus test within the previous 48 hours. .
READ MORE: Travelers rush to enter China as it eases pandemic border restrictions
The two sides are reopening travel connections that were suspended as part of Beijing’s “zero-COVID” strategy, which aimed to prevent the virus from entering China. Hong Kong has imposed different but equally severe restrictions that have blocked most international travel.
Candice Zhong, a resident of the neighboring mainland city of Shenzhen who arrived in Hong Kong, said she plans to visit the city’s two main theme parks.
“I want to come to Hong Kong to see how it is now,” Zhong said at the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway terminal. “I will go to Disneyland and Ocean Park.”
Alice Fung, Associated Press video producer in Hong Kong, contributed to this report.