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Study: Covid causes 5,000 fatalities and one million infections daily in China.

The new estimates were provided by London-based Airfinity, which predicted cases to continue to rise in China with two likely peaks, one in mid-January and the second in early March.

 China may already be recording over a million new infections and at least 5,000 deaths every day, according to new estimates by an analytics company, as criticism mounted over Beijing’s lack of transparent data and its decision to change what it considers a Covid-19 death.

The new estimates were provided by London-based Airfinity, which predicted cases to continue to rise in China with two likely peaks, one in mid-January and the second in early March.

“China has stopped mass testing and is no longer reporting asymptomatic cases. The combination means the official data is unlikely to be a true reflection of the outbreak being experienced across the country,” said Airfinity’s head of vaccines and epidemiology, Dr Louise Blair.

Last month Airfinity released analysis on the mortality risk in China, estimating between 1.3 and 2.1 million people could die from Covid-19 once China lifted its restrictive ‘Zero-Covid’ policy which, in addition to its subpar vaccines, has left the population without adequate immunity to live with the virus.

Blair noted that China has changed the way it records Covid-19 deaths to only include those who die from respiratory failure or pneumonia after testing positive. “This is different to other countries that record deaths within a time frame of a positive test or where Covid-19 is recorded to have attributed to the cause of death. This change could downplay the extent of deaths seen in China.”

The assessment, issued in a statement by the company, came hours after World Health Organization director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the global health body was concerned over the situation in China and that “more detailed information on disease severity, hospital admissions and requirement for ICU support” was needed.

Ghebreyesus, who was speaking at a press conference late on Wednesday, said the WHO “is very concerned over the evolving situation in China, with increasing reports of severe disease”.

He also called on China to be more transparent with information relating to the origin of the pandemic. “…gaps in our understanding of how this pandemic began compromise our ability to prevent future pandemics. We continue to call on China to share the data and conduct the studies we have requested, and which we continue to request. As I have said many times before, all hypotheses about the origins of this pandemic remain on the table,” he said.

News agencies reported in the last 48 hours signs of overwhelmed hospitals and a flood of funerals, giving weight to the assessments that China’s true Covid toll was much higher than the single-digit numbers it has reported recently.

Dozens of hearses queued outside a Beijing crematorium on Wednesday, Reuters reported, the second time in a week such scenes were seen.

Amid a heavy police presence outside a crematorium in Beijing’s Tongzhou district, a Reuters witness saw about 40 hearses queuing to enter while the parking lot was full. Inside, family and friends, many wearing traditional white clothing and headbands of mourning, gathered around about 20 coffins awaiting cremation. Staff wore hazmat suits and smoke rose from five of the 15 furnaces, the agency reported.

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