Global Health Press

China lists Covid-19 behind only AIDS as second deadly category B infectious disease In 2020

China included COVID-19 statistics in a newly published national statutory infectious diseases report, listing the new coronavirus as the second-highest deadly infectious disease after HIV/AIDS among category B infectious diseases in 2020.

In 2020, China reported 87,071 COVID-19 cases and 4,634 deaths, with 6.2 infections and 0.33 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the annual report released by the National Health Commission (NHC).

The death rate in the report refers to the proportion of COVID-19 deaths among the whole population. Based on the data, the coronavirus fatality rate — the number of deaths divided by the number of confirmed cases — was about 5.3% during 2020.

Recently, China added just two more COVID-19 deaths and 3,054 confirmed cases in 2021, putting its overall fatality rate at 5.1%, the second-highest in the world.

Currently, Mexico has the highest COVID-19 fatality rate at 9%. The U.S. reported a total of 543,000 deaths among 30 million infection cases, both the highest in the world, but the country’s fatality rate was only 1.8%, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

China’s fatality rate number was affected by many factors, including underreporting of total infections.

At the early stage of the outbreak in China, which began in January 2020, virus testing in many areas was limited and individuals with mild infections might not have sought medical care, while asymptomatic individuals were not usually screened. Hence, the official confirmed case count may be significantly lower, Chinese researchers said in a paper recently published in the Lancet.

On January 20, 2020, the NHC classified COVID-19 as a category B infectious statutory disease to be treated with control measures applicable to category A diseases.

Under Chinese law, infectious diseases are classified into three categories, each requiring different preventive and control measures. There are only two diseases under category A: bubonic plague, a rare bacterial infection transmitted by fleas; and cholera. Category B contains diseases such as SARS, anthrax, HIV/AIDS, typhoid and viral hepatitis. Class C contains diseases such as influenza, leprosy, mumps and schistosomiasis.

In 2020, China reported 5.8 million cases of all three categories and 26,374 deaths. Flu infection and death rates showed a significant decline, at only about one-third of 2019’s infection rate, the report said.

Experts attributed the decline of flu to COVID-19 prevention and control measures. As flu is also transmitted by airborne droplets, measures including wearing masks, keeping social distance, and washing hands have significantly reduced the incidence of flu, experts said.

Source: Nikkei Asia

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