China’s fight against Covid-19 cut deaths from other illnesses – study

A study conducted by Oxford University and China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found that non-Covid related deaths in China fell during the start of 2020, helped by measures to control the spread of the virus.

Researchers examined official death registry data in China from January 1 to March 31, 2020, discovering that, with the exception of Wuhan, where Covid-19 was first identified, the average death rate was 675 per 10,000, lower than the expected figure of 715.

The study, published in the British Medical Association’s BMJ journal, put the drop in deaths from diseases such as pneumonia, or accidents, including traffic collisions, down to the lack of contact individuals had, as cities went into lockdown to restrict the spread of Covid-19.

“It would appear that the lockdown and associated behavioural changes, such as wearing facemasks, increased hygiene, social distancing and restricted travel, actually had unintended health benefits,” Zhengming Chen, one of the study’s authors, said in a statement.

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While Covid-19 infections spiked in China and in other countries around the world, official data shows the Asian nation recorded a dramatic fall in the recorded cases of infectious disease in December 2020, noting only 542,172, compared with 1.7 million the previous year.

China has officially reported 101,726 cases of Covid-19 and 4,842 deaths from the disease. However, the country has been accused of under-reporting the true scale of the pandemic, something that Beijing denies.

The World Health Organization is currently investigating the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic in China, with an international team arriving last month to establish how the virus began and spread so rapidly, to better understand the pandemic and attempt to prevent a future outbreak on this scale.

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