Tibet: more than 220 thousand elderly could die from Covid-19

Study by International Campaign for Tibet reveals. Those over 60 the most vulnerable. Peak infection is expected in these festive days for the Lunar New Year. Estimate presented for Tibet is "conservative." Need more transparency from authorities. Discrimination in vaccine administration.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - More than 220,000 Tibetans over the age of 60 could die this year from Covid-19. That's a projection contained in a report released in recent days by the aid organization International Campaign for Tibet.

After the sudden cancellation of Xi Jinping's zero-Covid policy in early December, the World Health Organization expressed concern about the spread of the virus to remote areas of China during the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls today. Over the past week, millions of Chinese have been moving to join their families in the country's rural areas, which are less equipped in terms of health.

Studies by domestic and foreign research institutions estimate that more than 1.6 million Chinese could perish from lung disease in 2023. Precise data on the trend of the epidemic curve is currently lacking: as was the case when the pandemic broke out in late 2019, authorities provide little information.

International Campaign for Tibet says the calculation presented is "conservative," and that the actual number of victims cannot be known without more transparency from the Chinese government.

According to Radio Free Asia, the reopenings decided by authorities after the late November riots immediately led to an increase in Covid deaths in the Tibet Autonomous Region. For the most part, these are the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Official statistics show that there are about 693,000 Tibetans over 60 and 82,700 over 80. International Campaign for Tibet claims that the deaths so far are also the result of discriminatory acts against the Tibetan community. Some sources revealed to the humanitarian group that authorities would exclude older Tibetan residents from the third dose of vaccination in early 2022.