China said on Saturday it had recorded almost 60,000 Covid-related deaths between December 8 and January 12, and the current wave has already peaked. It is the first time China has released a death toll since its abrupt pivot away from the zero-Covid policy last month. Jiao Yahui, director of the National Health Commission’s medical affairs department, said medical institutes had recorded 5,503 deaths as a result of respiratory failure triggered by Covid infection and 54,435 deaths of people infected with Covid-19 but with underlying conditions, such as cancer or cardiovascular diseases. The average age of those who died was 80.3, and 90 per cent of fatalities were aged 65 or over. Jiao also said the current wave of cases had peaked. “The number of fever clinic visitors is generally on a downward trend after peaking, both in cities and rural areas,” she added. Jiao said the number of emergency patients was also declining and the ratio of patients who had tested positive for Covid-19 was steadily falling as well. China a global leader in support for Covid-19 vaccines: survey Jiao said there had been 128,000 patients with severe Covid-19 on January 5, but the number had dropped to 105,000 by January 12. The use rate for intensive care hospital beds was 75.3 per cent, she added. Among the critically ill Covid-19 patients on January 12, there were 97,000 patients with severe underlying conditions, accounting for 92.8 per cent. The remainder, some 7,357 people, had Covid only. She said the severe cases are mainly elderly, with the oldest one aged 105, and the average age of those patients stood at 75.5 years. Nearly 90 per cent of those severely ill patients are aged 60 or over. And about 40 per cent of them have one underlying condition, and 35 per cent had three or more. Wen Daxiang, a Shanghai Health Commission official, said China would strengthen health monitoring and management of the high-risk population. Other measures would include boosting the supply of drugs and medical equipment, and more training for medical staff in rural areas. China’s National Health Commission announced last month that only Covid-19 patients who die from respiratory failure will be counted towards the official death toll. Since China suddenly removed most of its pandemic restrictions last month, many residents have complained the change was not well-planned and have reported shortages of medicines . Some countries have accused China of lacking transparency about the latest outbreak, which has led to reports of hospitals and funeral homes around the country being overwhelmed . WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the organisation was continuing to “ask China for more rapid, regular, reliable data on hospitalisation and deaths, as well as … viral sequencing”. Some countries have imposed restrictions on travellers from China, such as demanding negative tests, and called on Beijing to share more data with the rest of the world. In a retaliatory move, China has suspended the issue of short-term visas for Japanese and South Korean visitors, saying the travel restrictions imposed by these two nations – which affect all visitors from China – are discriminatory. South Korea, Japan Covid travel restrictions excessive: China’s foreign minister The Chinese foreign ministry also hit back on Friday after the US said its travel restrictions were the result of Beijing’s failure to release more information about the outbreak. Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the ministry, responded by calling on the US to share its data about the spread of the XBB. 1.5 subvariant in a timely fashion. Senior health officials have insisted the policy shift was neither an impulsive nor passive decision. Liang Wanian, the leader of the country’s Covid-19 expert response team, had said winter is the best time for China to pivot from zero-Covid because people will see their vaccination immunity waning over the summer.