Nearly 60,000 people have died of Covid in China since early December, the National Health Commission announced on Saturday following complaints that the country is underrepresenting the severity of its coronavirus outbreak, the Associated Press reported.

On December 25, China stopped reporting data on coronavirus deaths and infections after abandoning its strict “zero-Covid” policy. The country also revised its methodology for categorising Covid fatalities, saying it would count only those who die of respiratory failure caused by the virus.

But Jiao Yahui, the head of the Bureau of Medical Administration under the National Health Commission, on Saturday announced that China recorded 59,938 Covid deaths between December 8 and January 12. The figure, Jiao said, includes 5,503 deaths caused by respiratory failure and 54,435 fatalities from other ailments combined with Covid.

The toll, however, includes only those who died in hospitals and the total count is likely to be higher.

Saturday’s figures would more than double China’s official Covid toll to 10,775 since the virus first emerged in the city of Wuhan in late 2019, according to AP.

Jiao said the peak of the latest wave of infections, which led to hospitals and crematoriums being overwhelmed, appears to have passed. She stated that the daily number of patients going to fever clinics peaked at 2.9 million on December 23 and had fallen by 83% to 4,77,000 on January 12.

The average age of those who died since December 8 was 80.3 years old, with over 90% of fatalities above 65 years of age, the National Health Commission said.

“The number of elderly patients dying from illness is relatively large, which suggests that we should pay more attention to elderly patients and try our best to save their lives,” Jiao added.

In December, a number of countries, including India, announced they will require negative tests from passengers arriving from China. Some nations cited China’s lack of transparency about infection data and the risk of new emerging variants as reasons to implement containment measures.