China may see 36,000 COVID deaths a day during New Year holidays: Study

Beijing, Jan 18 (EFE).- China might see 36,000 COVID-19 deaths a day during the Lunar New Year holidays, according to a study by the British independent forecasting firm Airfinity.

Airfinity has updated its cases and deaths forecast for the COVID-19 outbreak as the Chinese New Year holiday hastens the spread of the virus.

The updated forecast considered reports that some provinces, including Henan, Gansu, Qinghai, and Yunnan, had already seen infections peak.

“Our analytics indicators suggest that the virus has spread more quickly to rural areas, partly driven by people traveling for the Chinese New Year celebrations,” the forecaster said.

The firm predicted that infections could peak at 4.8 million a day with 62 million cases across a fortnight between Jan 13-27 before beginning to fall.

“Deaths are forecast to peak at 36,000 a day on the 26th of January during the Lunar New Year Festival. This is up from our previous estimate of deaths peaking at 25,000 a day,” the firm said.

Airfinity had originally predicted two waves of infections after the holiday period and in March.

But it has now predicted “one larger and more prolonged wave with infections reaching a higher peak” than earlier.

“The implication of one larger wave as opposed to two smaller ones is increased pressure on hospitals and crematoriums and therefore also potentially a higher case fatality ratio,” it said.

Airfinity’s analytics Director Matt Linley said some provinces like Hubei and Henan could see patient demand for intensive care beds being six times hospital capacity.

“Our forecast estimates a significant burden on China’s healthcare system for the next fortnight and it is likely that many treatable patients could die due to overcrowded hospitals and lack of care,” Linley said.

Airfinity’s new model increases its estimate for the total number of cases since Dec.1 from 72.9 million on Jan 17 to 99.5 million.

“While the total number of infections expected in this wave has remained the same at 228 million cases, our model now estimates these have occurred faster than previously expected,” it said.

The same is true for its estimates of deaths.

The new model estimated daily deaths to be 32,200 on Jan 17, whereas a previous outlook predicted 23,700.

The new forecast estimated cumulative deaths from the Dec.1 to be 608,000 up from our previous estimate of 437,000.

Chinese health authorities Saturday said 59,938 people died of COVID-19 between Dec.8 and Jan.12.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also said China might not be providing the actual COVID figures in the current outbreak, which makes it impossible to know the true scope of the disease even globally.

China said it had shared the data “in an open, timely, and transparent manner” since the pandemic began. EFE


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