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China’s first COVID-19 death in eight months had underlying disease and was previously critically ill

(Global Times)    13:48, January 14, 2021

Residents register their personal information before the COVID-19 test at a community COVID-19 testing site in Qiaoxi District of Shijiazhuang, capital of north China's Hebei Province, Jan. 12, 2021. Shijiazhuang started the second round of nucleic acid tests for all residents on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Mu Yu)

China on Thursday reported its first local COVID-19 fatality in about eight months since May 17, a female patient from North China's Hebei Province who had an underlying disease and had been extremely ill before she died on Wednesday afternoon.

Experts say the case is not a direct indication that the virus has become more pathogenic.

The Chinese mainland reported 138 new confirmed and 78 asymptomatic cases registered on Wednesday, health authorities said on Thursday. Of all the confirmed cases, 81 come from Hebei, including 75 in its capital city Shijiazhuang. The province has 16 active severe cases in hospital.

The patient, who died on Wednesday afternoon, was a woman with an underlying disease and had been extremely ill, according to the Hebei provincial health commission on Thursday. No other information was released as of press time.

Chinese authorities have said that most of the patients from this round of infections are middle-aged and elderly people from villages. The average age of the confirmed cases in Hebei Province is 50 years old, and 30 percent of the cases are over 60.

For patients with other medical problems, the mortality rate is higher, as infection with the novel coronavirus will aggravate any existing diseases, Yang Zhanqiu, a deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

He said that the occurrence of death is not that surprising given the high average age of the patients in Hebei’s new outbreak. He noted that middle-aged and elderly people generally make up at least 60 percent of deaths from COVID-19.

Yang said the fatality is not a direct indication that the virus has become more pathogenic, considering it may not have been mainly caused by COVID-19 but other diseases that the patient was already suffering.

Hebei had 16 active severe cases in hospital as of Wednesday. Provincial authorities said earlier last week that the severe patients have hypertension, coronary heart disease, diabetes and other basic diseases. The two oldest patients from this fresh outbreak are 91 and 89 years old.

National expert teams have been dispatched to hospitals together with local expert teams to provide the best treatment plans for patients in Hebei. Meanwhile, the National Health Commission has collected the blood plasma of rehabilitated patients in Wuhan to treat severely ill patients in Hebei.

Ordinary and mild patients will be treated with a combination of TCM and Western medicine. Patients will be given proper medical treatment in the mild stage of their illness to prevent their cases from becoming severe or life-threatening.

A total of 30,000 milliliters of blood plasma has been sent to Hebei and Northeast China’s Liaoning Province, health officials said at a State Council press conference on the joint prevention and control mechanism on Wednesday in Beijing. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Hongyu)

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