While many are cheering China’s scrapping of its stringent zero-COVID policy earlier this month, an increasing number of reports suggest that the latest official tallies of new cases only represent a fraction of the real numbers.
On Friday — before announcing over the weekend that it would no longer provide daily COVID data — China reported about 4,000 new cases for the entire country, as the New York Times reported.
At the same time, local media reported that a health official said there were about half a million cases a day in the city of Qingdao alone. The city of Dongguan estimated it was seeing about 250,000 to 300,000 new cases a day, and the city of Yulin reported 157,000 new cases last Friday, the New York Times report said.
A public-health expert at the University of Hong Kong said that based on data from Hong Kong’s COVID outbreak earlier this year, China could be facing tens of millions of new cases a day, the New York times report said.
That jibes with other reports that some hospitals in China are being overwhelmed with severe cases. Vaccination rates in the country have been relatively low, especially among the elderly.
Even as reports of a nationwide surge in cases increase, so do reports of restrictions that are being lifted.
On Wednesday, Hong Kong will stop requiring PCR COVID tests for arriving travelers and will also end the requirement for vaccine passes in order to enter some public venues.
The lifting of the requirements come as government data showed that 95% of Hong Kong’s population have had at least one shot of a COVID vaccine, while 83% have had three doses.
In the U.S., 80.8% of Americans have had at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, 69% of the population has been fully vaccinated, but only 14.6% have received an updated bivalent booster dose.
For new COVID cases, the seven-day average ticked up to 67,215 on Tuesday from 66,014 on Monday and has edged up 2% from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times tracker.
The daily average for COVID-related hospitalizations was 39,432 on Tuesday, down from 40,156 the day before and down 1% from two weeks ago. Deaths dropped to a two-week low of 388, down 18% from two weeks ago.
On a negative note, the test-positivity rate rose to a four-month high above 14%, which suggests that many new COVID infections are not being reported.
The number of COVID-related patients in intensive-care units fell to 4,871 on Tuesday from Monday’s 4½-month high of 4,931 but has increased 8% from two weeks ago.