Hundreds of millions of Chinese are travelling across the country for holiday reunions that had been suspended under recently eased Covid curbs, raising fears of fresh outbreaks in rural areas less equipped to manage large outbreaks.

China has passed the peak of Covid patients in fever clinics, emergency rooms and with critical conditions, a National Health Commission official said on Thursday.

Nearly 60,000 people with Covid had died in hospital as of 12 January, roughly a month after China abruptly dismantled its zero-Covid policy, according to government data.

But some experts said that figure probably vastly undercounts the full impact, as it excludes those who die at home, and because many doctors have said they are discouraged from citing Covid as a cause of death.