BEIJING: China has reported declining numbers of fever patients and critical COVID 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 December 8, 2022 and January 12, 2023, Xinhua News Agency reported.
"The number of critical cases in hospitals peaked on January 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.
"At present, 75.3 per cent 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.
According to Jiao, the number of people seeking treatment at fever clinics peaked on December 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 January 12, a decrease of 83.3 per cent 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 per cent on December 20, 2022. The number dropped to 10.8 percent on Jan. 12, Jiao added.
The proportion of positive COVID-19 tests among all hospital outpatients peaked at 5.7 percent on December 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 per cent 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 January 12, 92.8 per cent 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.
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.