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China's COVID surge strains hospitals as estimated toll soars

Official count remains low, but country likely seeing 5,000 deaths a day

More than 50% of Beijing's population is already infected with COVID, according to internal estimates.   © Reuters

GUANGZHOU/DALIAN, China -- Hospitals in China face severe understaffing along with shortages of beds and medicine as COVID-19 infections skyrocket, underscoring the growing strain on the nation's health care system even as the official count remains low.

With the government easing its zero-COVID policy earlier this month, the number of infected people reached more than 240 million in December alone, according to an internal estimate leaked online. More than 5,000 people are likely dying from COVID-19 each day, according to estimates from British medical research company Airfinity.

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