Deaths from other or underlying diseases not classified as COVID-related deaths: epidemiologist
Published: Dec 20, 2022 10:51 PM
The photo taken on December 14, 2022 shows Emergency of Peking University First Hospital. Photo: VCG

The photo taken on December 14, 2022 shows Emergency of Peking University First Hospital. Photo: VCG

China’s top epidemiologist said at a press conference on Tuesday that the deaths of COVID-19 patients due to underlying diseases, which is the main cause of their deaths, are not counted as deaths from Omicron infections.

Wang Guiqiang, director of the infectious diseases department at Peking University First Hospital, said regarding the number of deaths from COVID-19 that the main cause of death after infection with the coronavirus is still underlying diseases. Although the Omicron variant still causes pneumonia in some cases, it rarely leads to respiratory failure, the expert noted.

Deaths caused by pneumonia or respiratory failure due to the coronavirus are classified as COVID-related deaths, but deaths caused by other diseases or underlying diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases or myocardial infarction, are not classified as being caused by COVID-19, Wang said.

The epidemiologist further explained that as the pathogenic rate of the Omicron strain is significantly lower and the vaccination program has covered most parts of the country, the Omicron strain is now mainly invading the upper respiratory tract after infection, and the proportion of pneumonia in the lower respiratory tract is relatively low.

A total of 2,722 confirmed cases were reported in the Chinese mainland on Monday, with 35,976 confirmed cases still under medical observation and receiving treatment nationwide. As of Monday, a total of 383,175 confirmed cases and 5,242 deaths were reported nationwide, according to the National Health Commission (NHC).

Wang also noted that only a few elderly people have actually died directly from respiratory failure caused by COVID-19 infection, and that the NHC also clarified the interpretation of COVID-related deaths through evaluation in order to scientifically and realistically reflect the deaths caused by the disease.

According to the website of the NHC, seven people have died from COVID-19 in the past week, and these were all in Beijing.

The health authorities have called for the strengthening of classification and management of the health status for key parts of the population, adding that local health workers and family doctors should act as "gatekeepers" in this respect. 

Communities should monitor the situation of elderly residents who have underlying diseases, the authorities said.

Global Times