Mar 25, 2021 06:34 AM

China Lists Covid-19 Behind Only AIDS as Second Deadly Category B Infectious Disease In 2020

China classified COVID-19 as a category B statutory infectious disease on January 20, 2020.
China classified COVID-19 as a category B statutory infectious disease on January 20, 2020.

China included Covid-19 statistics in a newly-published national statutory infectious diseases report, listing the new coronavirus as the second highest deadly infectious disease after HIV/AIDS among category B infectious diseases in 2020.

In 2020, China reported 87,071 Covid-19 cases and 4,634 deaths, with 6.2 infections and 0.33 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the annual report released by the National Health Commission (NHC).

The death rate in the report refers to the proportion of Covid-19 deaths among the whole population. Based on the data, the coronavirus fatality rate, the number of deaths divided by the number of confirmed cases, was about 5.3% during 2020.

As of Tuesday, China only added two more Covid-19 deaths and 3,054 new confirmed cases in 2021, putting its overall fatality rate at 5.1%, the second highest in the world.

Currently, Mexico has the highest Covid-19 fatality rate at 9%. As of Tuesday, U.S. reported a total of 543,000 deaths among 30 million infection cases, both the highest in the world, but the country’s fatality rate was only 1.8%, according to data compiled by John Hopkins University.

China’s fatality rate number was affected by many factors, including under-reporting of total infections.

At the early stage of the outbreak in China, which began in January 2020, because the virus test in many areas was very limited and individuals with mild infections might not seek medical care and asymptomatic individuals were not usually screened, the official confirmed case count may be underestimated significantly, Chinese researchers said in a paper recently published on the Lancet.

On January 20, 2020, the NHC classified COVID-19 as a category B infectious statutory disease to be treated with control measures applicable to category A diseases.

Under China’s law, infectious diseases are classified into three categories requiring the implementation of different preventive and control measures. There are only two diseases under category A: bubonic plague, a rare bacterial infection transmitted by fleas, and cholera. Category B contains diseases such as SARS, anthrax, HIV/AIDS, typhoid, and viral hepatitis. Class C contains diseases such as influenza, leprosy, mumps, and schistosomiasis.

In 2020, China reported overall 5.8 million cases of all three categories of infectious diseases, and 26,374 deaths. Flu infection and death rates showed significant decline, with only about one third of 2019’s infection rate, the report said.

Experts attributed the decline of flu infection to Covid-19 prevention and control measures. As flu is also transmitted by airborne droplets, measures including wearing masks, keeping social distance and washing hands frequently have significantly reduced the incidence of flu, experts said.

Contact reporter Denise Jia (

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