China reports declining critical COVID-19 cases as peaks pass

A medical staff administers a second booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine for a resident through nose at a temporary vaccination site in Haidian district, Beijing, capital of China, Dec 17, 2022. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

BEIJING – China has reported declining numbers of fever patients and critical COVID-19 cases nationwide as both peaks have passed less than a month after the country optimized its epidemic response in early December.

The country's health authorities reported 59,938 COVID-related deaths in hospitals between Dec 8, 2022 and Jan 12, 2023.

According to Jiao, the number of people seeking treatment at fever clinics peaked on Dec 23, 2022 at about 2.87 million, and the figure has since been in continuous decline

"The number of critical cases in hospitals peaked on Jan 5, totaling at 128,000 on the day," said Jiao Yahui, head of the Bureau of Medical Administration under the National Health Commission (NHC), at a press conference held by the State Council joint COVID-19 prevention and control mechanism, on Saturday.

The number then began to drop with fluctuations, falling back to 105,000 on Jan 12, Jiao said.

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"At present, 75.3 percent of beds for severe cases are being used," Jiao said, adding that the total number of intensive care beds is sufficient to meet the need for treatment.

Peaks pass

According to Jiao, the number of people seeking treatment at fever clinics peaked on Dec 23, 2022 at about 2.87 million, and the figure has since been in continuous decline.

The number of fever patients fell to 477,000 on Jan 12, a decrease of 83.3 percent from the peak daily figure.

Two weeks after the peak of fever patients, the number of critical cases in hospitals reached its peak, Jiao said.

The COVID-19 detection rate at fever clinics also continues to decline, peaking at 33.9 percent on Dec 20, 2022. The number dropped to 10.8 percent on Jan 12, Jiao added.

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The proportion of positive COVID-19 tests among all hospital outpatients peaked at 5.7 percent on Dec 19, 2022, and has since continued to drop, falling to 0.9 percent on Jan 12, Jiao said.

People seeking treatment at general outpatient departments totaled nearly 9.14 million on Jan 12, basically returning to the pre-epidemic level, Jiao said.

Regular medical services at hospitals are recovering gradually, Jiao said.

Protect the vulnerable

According to the press conference, the majority of critical cases and COVID-related deaths are the elderly, most of whom have underlying issues.

The average age at the time of death was 80.3 years, said Jiao, adding that more than 90 percent of the deaths involved underlying issues, including cardiovascular diseases, advanced tumors, cerebrovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, metabolic diseases and renal insufficiency.

The average age of severe case patients is 75.5 years, said Jiao, adding that of the severe cases in hospitals on Jan 12, 92.8 percent have severe underlying issues complicated with COVID-19 infection.

In the next step, efforts will be made in health monitoring and referral services for the elderly, pregnant women, children and patients with underlying issues, said Mi Feng, an NHC spokesperson, at the press conference.

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Mi called for ensuring the smooth channel for transferring critical cases, treating patients with integrated Chinese and Western medicine and further boosting vaccination among the elderly.

He also underlined enhancing the capacity of medical services in rural areas.