China has reported 60,000 coronavirus-related deaths since December after concerns of underreporting

China on Saturday reported nearly 60,000 coronavirus-related deaths since December 8 after groups such as the World Health Organization complained about a lack of information from officials.

Previously, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported only 36 deaths from December 7 to January 8, according to the Washington Post.

It also marks a sharp rise from the previous suspicious official death total of 10,775 since the disease was detected in Wuhan in 2019.

On the other hand, the United States has reported more than 1 million deaths due to COVID-19 despite its much reduced population.

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(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Despite reports of crowded hospitals and funeral homes, Jiao Yahui of the National Health Commission said on Saturday that the peak had passed. “The data shows that the peak of national emergency is over,” she said.

China’s National Health Commission reported that 5,503 people have died of respiratory failure in hospitals and 54,435 deaths in hospitals from illnesses related to the virus since December 8.

The data did not touch on people who might have died at home, and the official death total includes only respiratory failure and pneumonia deaths unlike countries like the United States, which include other deaths related to the coronavirus.

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Beijing also instituted a highly restrictive “no COVID” policy that helped keep the number of cases down for a while but did not allow people to leave the house at all and sparked protests.

Family members of the deceased await cremation procedures at a funeral home in Shanghai, China on January 4, 2023. On Saturday, January 14, China reported nearly 60,000 deaths in people who had contracted COVID-19 since early December after complaints from The government fails to release data on the status of the epidemic.  (@Chinatopix via AP)

Family members of the deceased await cremation procedures at a funeral home in Shanghai, China on January 4, 2023. On Saturday, January 14, China reported nearly 60,000 deaths in people who had contracted COVID-19 since early December after complaints from The government fails to release data on the status of the epidemic. (@Chinatopix via AP)
(@Chinatopix via AP)

Those rules were abruptly relaxed in early December after some of the biggest public demonstrations of opposition against the ruling Communist Party in more than 30 years.

The sudden change and lack of preparation, including insufficient vaccination levels, led to a high infection rate after restrictions were lifted.

In its latest update, the Health Commission said the average age of those who died was 80 and 90% were over 65 years of age with 90% having underlying health problems.

“The number of elderly patients dying of the disease is relatively large, which indicates that we should pay more attention to elderly patients and try our best to save their lives,” Jiao said.

In early December, Beijing stopped reporting deaths after a surge in cases in October and local reports that millions of people may have been infected across the country.

The country has consistently faced criticism for underestimating deaths and case numbers, starting with accusations that it downplayed the virus in 2019 before it spiraled into a global pandemic.

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Beijing recently hit back at Japan and South Korea by denying visas from the two countries after they, along with the United States, implemented coronavirus testing for people traveling from China.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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