China’s COVID credibility hit as local case count surpasses national count

Two Chinese cities reported daily Covid cases that far exceeded the official national tally, in another illustration of the unreliability of data in a country struggling with infections after abruptly ending Covid Zero.

Dongguan city in southern Guangdong province has between 250,000 and 300,000 people infected daily, the city’s health commission said. said on its WeChat account on Friday, citing model-based estimates and expert assessments. The manufacturing hub had a population of approximately 10.5 million in 2021.

The city of Qingdao in the eastern province of Shandong has between 490,000 and 530,000 daily cases based on data projections, according to a local newspaper report Friday, citing the head of the city’s health commission. Covid cases have yet to peak in the city of some 10.3 million people, the official said.

These local estimates show a huge discrepancy with the official tally of just 4,103 reported cases for China for December 23. It also underscores the inaccuracy of government data and highlights the huge challenge the country faces following its rapid relaxation of Covid 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 people in the country may have been infected with Covid in a single day. Health officials in the island province of Hainan said Friday that infections are “growing exponentially” and a new wave of cases are expected on 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 crematoria are struggling to cope. In Dongguan, the health commission said as of December 22, 2,528 health workers were still working despite having a fever or testing positive for Covid.

Although Qingdao’s estimate is not an accurate count and possibly in the tens of thousands, such a practice of “seeking truth from facts should be applauded”, setting an example for other cities, according to former editor of the nationalist Global Times newspaper Hu Xijin.

Some local governments still use the old calculation methods, “which do not reflect reality and seriously deviate from people’s observations, leading to an erosion of trust in official statements and damaging the credibility of the government”, he said. -he wrote on his official WeChat account on Saturday.

–With help from April Ma

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Post expires at 9:30am on Wednesday January 25th, 2023