China reports over 12,000 COVID-19 deaths in week through Jan.19

China's health authorities said over 12,000 hospitalized people infected with the coronavirus died in the seven days through Thursday.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Saturday that 12,658 patients had died in medical institutions between January 13 and 19.

Officials said 681 people died of respiratory failure while 11,977 others died of complications.

The announcement marked the first time in seven days that the Chinese government has updated official death counts.

Concerns are growing about the spread of infections in rural areas, as people travel to their hometowns for the Lunar New Year holidays which began on Saturday.

The Chinese government estimates people will make 2.1 billion passenger trips during the 40-day period before and after the holidays.