Chinese leadership on Friday declared a “decisive victory” in the fight against COVID-19.
The announcement was made in a statement issued after a meeting of top officials amid accusations that Beijing is vastly undercounting the pandemic’s toll.
The statement issued after the meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee, overseen by President Xi Jinping, said since November, China’s response to the pandemic had “made a smooth transition in a relatively short time.”
Practice had proven that the committee had been correct in its assessment of the pandemic, its decisions and strategic adjustments, according to the statement.
More than 200 million infected people had sought medical services and nearly 800,000 serious cases had received appropriate treatment, it said.
China’s COVID-19 fatality rate is the “world’s lowest,” the Politburo claimed in its statement published via state media.
“China has created a miracle in human history, in which a highly populous nation has successfully pulled through a pandemic,” it said.
There was no accurate picture of the devastation wrought by the massive coronavirus wave that struck China late 2022.
The government abruptly abandoned its strict zero-COVID strategy of lockdowns, forced quarantines and mass testing in early December.
There were accounts of overwhelmed hospitals and crematoria being unable to keep up with demand.
However, officially, only 83,150 deaths were reported in hospitals between early December and early February.
Outside experts note that the number is small given the scale of China’s COVID-19 wave and also caution that only a small proportion of people usually die in hospital in China in any case.
There were also reports of doctors being instructed not to certify COVID-19 as the cause of death.
Independent foreign estimates put the death toll far higher.
Model calculations by London-based data processor Airfinity put the number as high as 1.47 million.
The New York Times reported this week that four separate academic teams estimate the number at between 1 and 1.5 million.