By JOE McDONALD
BEIJING (AP) — The World Health Organization has appealed to China to keep releasing information about its wave of COVID-19 infections after the government announced nearly 60,000 deaths since early December following weeks of complaints it was failing to tell the world what was happening.
The announcement Saturday was the first official death toll since the ruling Communist Party abruptly dropped anti-virus restrictions in December despite a surge in infections that flooded hospitals. That left the WHO and other governments appealing for information, while the United States, South Korea and others imposed controls on visitors from China.
The government said 5,503 people died of respiratory failure caused by COVID-19 and there were 54,435 fatalities from cancer, heart disease and other ailments combined with COVID-19 between Dec. 8 and Jan. 12.
The announcement “allows for a better understanding of the epidemiological situation,” said a WHO statement. It said the WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, talked by phone with Health Minister Ma Xiaowei.
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