People visit a business street during the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing on January 25, 2023. (AFP Photo)
The latest wave of the coronavirus pandemic in China has peaked at an estimated 4.2 million cases per day, the London-based Airfinity health research institute reported on Wednesday, on the basis of its predictive model.
Airfinity estimated deaths from the virus would peak at 36,000 on Thursday. According to its model, some 848,000 people have died from the virus in China since the start of December.
Travel within the country ahead of the Chinese New Year as families come together to celebrate has accelerated the spread of the virus, experts believe.
According to Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 80% of all Chinese could by now have been affected. This represents more than 1 billion people.
Airfinity said it was now expecting one large and long wave of infection, rather than two as reportedly earlier. This would increase pressure on hospitals and lead to a higher death rate, it warned.
After pursuing a strict lockdown strategy for almost three years, China abruptly ceased imposing forced quarantines and widespread testing seven weeks ago. Since then, reports have come in of crowded hospitals, overloaded crematoria and shortages of medicines.
Official figures on the pandemic's progress are no longer being published, and figures published by the health authority are mistrusted by foreign experts.