Quarter of a billion likely infected with COVID-19 in China from December 1-20: Government

Nearly 37 million people may have been infected on a single day this week

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 23 December 2022
Representative photo from

Nearly 18 per cent of China’s population or as many as 248 million people may have been infected with COVID-19 from December 1-20, 2022, media outlet Bloomberg News reported December 23.

Nearly 37 million people in China may have been infected with COVID-19 on a single day this week, Bloomberg added. It cited the minutes of an internal meeting by officials of China’s National Health Commission (NHC) held December 21.

If this figure is accurate, it would be much higher than the previous figure of four million recorded January 19 this year, during the omicron wave of COVID-19. 

Bloomberg added that more than half the residents of Sichuan province and the capital Beijing had been infected. 

“The minutes of the meeting didn’t note discussion on how many people have died. They did cite Ma Xiaowei, the head of the NHC, reiterating the new, much narrower definition used to count Covid fatalities,” according to the news organisation.

Read Fingers crossed: Experts cautious about variant evolution in the wake of China’s COVID-19 tsunami

Xiaowei said only those dying of from Covid-induced pneumonia will be counted as COVID deaths, excluding anyone with comorbidities who succumbs to the virus.

People in China were using rapid antigen tests to detect infections as the ubiquitous PCR booths across the country were shut down earlier this month, the report said. “Meanwhile, the government has stopped publishing the daily number of asymptomatic cases,” it read.

For most of the pandemic, China had been an outlier on two key factors — immunity profile and human mindset. This was due to the uncompromising ‘zero-covid’ policy that the government had put in place. But the policy was revoked December 7, 2022.

As a result, the omicron strain of SARS-CoV-2 now has perhaps the largest, most immunologically naive population to infect. The scale of such an encounter will give the virus many chances and a vast fertile ground to mutate.

“Chen Qin, chief economist at data consultancy MetroDataTech, forecasts China’s current wave will peak between mid-December and late January in most cities, based on an analysis of online keyword searches,” Bloomberg said.

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