Chinese health authorities said Wednesday it confirmed 6.94 million new coronavirus cases on Dec. 22, marking the highest number of daily infections as the country's reversal of its "zero-COVID" policy strategy sparked a massive wave of cases.

The number of new cases has since fallen to 15,000 as of Monday with 896 deaths, compared with a record 4,273 deaths on Jan. 4, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said. The official death count does not include those who died at home.

People wearing face masks walk at a subway station in Beijing on Jan. 18, 2023, amid concerns over the novel coronavirus. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

About 80 percent of the country's 1.4 billion population has already been infected, according to an official at the center.

On Dec. 7, China drastically eased its "zero-COVID" policy involving lockdowns and stopped requiring people to take frequent PCR tests and releasing data on asymptomatic cases.

The revised policy raised concerns worldwide that Beijing's official data does not reflect the reality on the ground.