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(Bloomberg) — China said its COVID-related death toll topped more than 12,600 in the week before the Lunar New Year holiday, while a top health official suggested more than 1.1 billion people had been infected since virus controls were abruptly dismantled late last year.

There were 12,658 COVID-linked deaths at hospitals between Jan.

13-19, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement dated Saturday. A week earlier, the country reported 59,938 such deaths for the period Dec. 8-Jan. 12.

The data comes after China came under fire for dramatically narrowing its definition of a COVID death and halting daily caseload reports. The World Health Organization has urged Beijing to release more detailed information on the country’s COVID situation as the virus spreads rapidly throughout China after the sudden lifting of extensive COVID Zero restrictions.

China now appears to be trying to appease those concerns by reporting on deaths that fall outside the narrowed definition, which only counts fatalities from infected people with respiratory failure. Even so, the numbers China is now revealing still present just a partial picture given they count only deaths at hospitals, ignoring those that occur at home and in aged-care facilities. The true toll could be hundreds of thousands higher given the extent of the outbreak and compared with mortality rates in other countries.

Separately, the China CDC’s chief epidemiologist, Wu Zunyou, said in a Weibo post at the weekend that 80% of the population have been infected in the current outbreak. China had a population of 1.41 billion at the end of 2022, suggesting more than 1.1 billion people have contracted the virus so far.

Wu didn’t elaborate on how the figure was calculated, given the country’s vast testing apparatus has been dismantled.

While travel during the Lunar New Year holiday period, currently under way, may lead to an uptick in cases in some regions, Wu said there is “very little chance” for large-scale infections or a second nationwide outbreak in the next two to three months.

Chinese officials have been eagerly pushing the view that the current COVID outbreak has peaked as they look to encourage a fast economic rebound after about three years of crippling restrictions and lockdowns. The economy grew just 3% last year, the second-slowest pace since the 1970s.

Vice Premier Liu He last week told the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, that growth will rebound to pre-pandemic levels after infections passed their peak. Outgoing Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, who once was synonymous with the country’s hardline pandemic approach, last week said infections have fallen to a “relatively low” level.

Concern Over Rural Spread

Still, there are signs the ruling Communist Party are concerned about the virus spreading into parts of the country less resourced than the major cities when it comes to hospitals and medical supplies.

President Xi Jinping singled out COVID’s rural spread in a nationwide video address before the New Year holiday, saying he’s especially concerned about efforts to battle the virus in the countryside. Experts are worried COVID could ravage vulnerable people in villages that have sparse health care infrastructure, with the reopening wave already leading to overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums in the major cities.

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There are only 1.62 doctors and nurses combined for every 1,000 people in rural China, compared to rates of 2.9 and 3.3 nationally. Access to intensive care with experienced doctors and equipment like ventilators to help gravely ill patients survive is often miles away.

Expectations the holiday — which typically falls in winter and sees millions of people travel home to their villages and towns — will supercharge spread saw predicative health analytics firm Airfinity Ltd. raised its estimate for Chinese COVID deaths to 36,000 a day, an increase of 11,000 every 24 hours from a previous forecast, after taking into account travel during holiday.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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Next News:

People are only just realising there’s a unpleasant side effect of laser hair removal and their minds are blown

PEOPLE are only just realising an important side effect of laser hair removal and are shocked that they weren’t aware before.

Beauty fan Miriam J, who posts on TikTok under the username @epitomeofclassy, took to the video sharing platform to reveal a side effect she claimed to have noticed after having laser hair removal.

2Beauty fans are only just realising a shocking, potential side effect of laser hair removal and their minds are blownCredit: TikTok/@epitomeofclassy 2Social media user Miriam J took to TikTok to reveal the stunning fact, leaving many open-mouthedCredit: TikTok/@epitomeofclassy

Miriam has amassed a whopping 1.5million followers and 38.4million likes on the social media app and describes herself as “your boujie bestie.”

In a recent clip, Miriam explained: “Apparently, laser hair removal can alter your flora and make you smell funky.. 

“I was wondering why my deodorant was no longer working. 

“Now, I use dial soap under my armpits and prescription strength deodorant. 

“It’s temporary, but it catches you by surprise on a hot day.”

In the clip, Miriam posted the text “when you find out laser hair removal increases body odour.”

She paired her video with an audio that read “Shut up, it is not” to which another person replied “Yes it is.” 

She smelt her armpits and frowned in disgust, in disbelief that it was the laser hair removal that was making her smell bad. 

Most read in FabulousSICK LAUGHTER Cops heard saying 'that was fun' in horror footage after Tyre Nichols beatingSUCKER FOR THE SPOTLIGHT Sherri Papini's thirst for limelight is blasted as new movie airsSCANDALOUS Kourtney Kardashian flashes her bare butt in raunchy PDA pics with Travis BarkerNO STRINGS ATTACHED I tried the Skims micro-bikini in front of my ex - the top was tiny

Miriam’s video has clearly shocked many, as it has quickly racked up a whopping 733.9k views.

It has 64.6k likes, 490 comments and 481 shares. 

TikTok users were left in shock at Miriam’s claims and were eager to express this in the comments. 

Many agreed that this too has happened to them.

One person said: “No way! ????”

Another added: “Wow really?! You felt like it was the complete opposite for me!!! It lightens my armpits and I rarely smell!”

A third commented: “Oh! That makes so much sense now!” 

Someone else posted: “Does it really?!!? ????” 

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In a study by the National Library of Medicine (NCBI), it was found that “Total body bromhidrosis and hyperhidrosis [excessive sweating] are potential complications of total body laser hair removal.”

However, in another study done by the NCBI, it found that: “The use of laser radiation, even with the aim of hair removal, can alter the microbial flora, and it can be accompanied by the improvement of the smell of sweat.”

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