China’s daily new Covid-19 infections hit a peak of more than 7 million per day around Dec. 22, while deaths reached a daily peak of more than 4,000 on Jan. 4, the country’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.

The figures, published on the centre’s website, come after a prominent government scientist said over the weekend that 80% of China’s 1.4 billion population have already been infected, making the possibility of a big Covid-19 rebound over the next two or three months remote.

“Around December 22, 2022, the number of infected people and the number of fever outpatient consultations reached a peak,” it said with the number of new infections “exceeding 7 million per day and the number of daily fever outpatient consultations peaking at 2.867 million”.

China has passed the peak of Covid patients in fever clinics, emergency rooms and with critical conditions, a National Health Commission official said last week.

Nearly 60,000 people with Covid had died in hospital as of Jan. 12, roughly a month after China abruptly dismantled its strict zero-Covid policy, according to government data.

But some experts said that figure probably vastly undercounts the full impact, as it excludes those who die at home and because many doctors have said they are discouraged from citing Covid as a cause of death.

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