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Nearly 250 million people in China could have Covid-19: RFA report

Experts reckon that the Covid-19 outbreak has now spread through the whole of China (File image)

Nearly 250 million people may now be infected with Covid-19 following the lifting of control measures in China, a Radio Free Asia (RFA) report has revealed citing a leaked government document circulating on social media.

The private non-profit news service revealed that the document, which appeared to be the leaked minutes of a December 20 meeting of the China’s National Health Commission, estimated that some 248 million people became infected with Covid-19 from December 1-20, or 17.65 percent of the country’s population.

A senior Chinese journalist who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals told Radio Free Asia that the document was genuine, and had been leaked by someone who attended the meeting who was acting deliberately and in the public interest.

“The apparent leak came amid growing anecdotal evidence of a wave of deaths in Beijing, and as the UK-based research firm Airfinity estimated that as many as 5,000 people are dying of the coronavirus across the whole of China every day,” the report mentioned.

“The firm had run a computer model based on regional Chinese data to arrive at the figure. The same model put the number of current daily Covid-19 infections at more than a million a day. Official data is currently reporting a total of 1,800 cases and only seven deaths across the past week, although officials have warned that the virus is now “impossible to track” with the abandonment of mass, compulsory testing,” it added.

Cases were currently rising fastest in Beijing and the southern province of Guangdong, report said.

The leaked minutes, according to the RFA report, quote National Health Commission head Ma Xiaowei as saying at an internal meeting that cases will likely skyrocket further now that disease control and prevention measures have largely been lifted, and as people are making the annual trip back to their parental homes to spend Lunar New Year.

Lin Hsiao-hsu, a former virology researcher at the Walter Reed Army Research Institute in the United States, told RFA that the Chinese government is likely to have used its own computer models to generate the figures mentioned in the leaked document, now that there is no more data coming in from testing.

“Reading it, I think all we can really say is that the Covid-19 outbreak has now spread through the whole of China,” Lin told Radio Free Asia.

“The fact that the Communist Party has arrived at such huge estimates shows that they are trying to whip up panic, so they can take advantage of it,” he said.

Also Read: Medicines run short in China as Covid wave surges