China reports nearly 60,000 Covid-related deaths in the past month

The family eats at a restaurant and the cabin crew stows the bag on an airplane, in the overhead compartments

The country saw a huge spike in infections from October (Image: Rex/EPA)

Almost 60,000 people have died with Covid in China since the beginning of December.

Authorities have been struggling to contain a huge surge in infections for several months.

Deaths in December included 5,503 people who died from respiratory failure caused by the disease and 54,435 from other causes linked to the infection.

The deaths include only those who died in hospitals, leading to the possibility that there could be more deaths elsewhere.

According to current data, the average age of the deceased is 80.3 years. Of those who died with Covid, 90.1% of people were over the age of 65.

More than 90% had cancer, heart or lung disease, or kidney problems.

Jiao Yahui, head of the Bureau of Medical Administration of the National Health Commission (NHC), updated the local press with the update.

He said: “The number of elderly patients dying from disease is relatively large, which suggests that we should pay more attention to elderly patients and do our best to save their lives.”

People hug at the international arrival gate of Beijing Capital International Airport

People hug at the international arrival gate of Beijing Capital International Airport after borders reopened (Image: Reuters)

At its peak on December 23, 2.9 million people were visiting Covid centers daily, with the number down 83% to 477,000 on Thursday.

China had managed to keep its infection rate and deaths lower than other western countries at the height of the pandemic with a “zero Covid” strategy that saw entire cities locked down and millions ordered to remain indoors.

Beijing recently opened its borders and mainland China lifted the border markers with Hong Kong and ended the quarantine entry requirement.

Long lines of passengers – many eager for long-awaited reunions – formed at Hong Kong International Airport for flights to cities like Beijing, Tianjin and Xiamen.

Patients lie on beds in a corridor at the emergency room of Zhongshan Hospital, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Shanghai, China January 3, 2023. REUTERS/Staff

China has been battling a surge in infections (Image: Reuters)

China’s relaxation of one of the world’s strictest Covid regimes last month followed protests against frequent testing, restrictions on movement and mass lockdowns.

Experts predict the lifting of restrictions will revitalize an economy suffering from the lowest growth in almost half a century.

But the abrupt reversal has unleashed a massive wave of infections, overwhelming hospitals and causing business disruption.

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Justin Scacco

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