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OBJECTIVE: To assess excess all cause and cause specific mortality during the three months (1 January to 31 March 2020) of the coronavirus disease 2019 (covid-19) outbreak in Wuhan city and other parts of China. DESIGN: Nationwide mortality registries. SETTING: 605 urban districts and rural counties in China's nationally representative Disease Surveillance Point (DSP) system. PARTICIPANTS: More than 300 million people of all ages. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Observed overall and weekly mortality rates from all cause and cause specific diseases for three months (1 January to 31 March 2020) of the covid-19 outbreak compared with the predicted (or mean rates for 2015-19) in different areas to yield rate ratio. RESULTS: The DSP system recorded 580 819 deaths from January to March 2020. In Wuhan DSP districts (n=3), the observed total mortality rate was 56% (rate ratio 1.56, 95% confidence interval 1.33 to 1.87) higher than the predicted rate (1147 v 735 per 100 000), chiefly as a result of an eightfold increase in deaths from pneumonia (n=1682; 275 v 33 per 100 000; 8.32, 5.19 to 17.02), mainly covid-19 related, but a more modest increase in deaths from certain other diseases, including cardiovascular disease (n=2347; 408 v 316 per 100 000; 1.29, 1.05 to 1.65) and diabetes (n=262; 46 v 25 per 100 000; 1.83, 1.08 to 4.37). In Wuhan city (n=13 districts), 5954 additional (4573 pneumonia) deaths occurred in 2020 compared with 2019, with excess risks greater in central than in suburban districts (50% v 15%). In other parts of Hubei province (n=19 DSP areas), the observed mortality rates from pneumonia and chronic respiratory diseases were non-significantly 28% and 23% lower than the predicted rates, despite excess deaths from covid-19 related pneumonia. Outside Hubei (n=583 DSP areas), the observed total mortality rate was non-significantly lower than the predicted rate (675 v 715 per 100 000), with significantly lower death rates from pneumonia (0.53, 0.46 to 0.63), chronic respiratory diseases (0.82, 0.71 to 0.96), and road traffic incidents (0.77, 0.68 to 0.88). CONCLUSIONS: Except in Wuhan, no increase in overall mortality was found during the three months of the covid-19 outbreak in other parts of China. The lower death rates from certain non-covid-19 related diseases might be attributable to the associated behaviour changes during lockdown.

Original publication

DOI

10.1136/bmj.n415

Type

Journal article

Journal

BMJ

Publication Date

24/02/2021

Volume

372

Keywords

Adult, COVID-19, Cause of Death, China, Disease Outbreaks, Female, Humans, Male, Noncommunicable Diseases, Pneumonia, Population Surveillance, Registries, SARS-CoV-2, Wounds and Injuries