Amid the recent COVID-19 surge in China, a research firm has suggested that the Asian country could be recording around 9,000 deaths a day.

This week, the health data firm Airfinity said via Reuters that China could be witnessing around 9,000 COVID-19-related deaths daily, twice the estimate it released a week ago amid news of a spike in infections in the Asian giant.

The research firm used modeling based on data from Chinese provinces before the country changed how authorities and national media were reporting the cases.

With its new data, Airfinity expects COVID infections in China to reach their first peak with 3.7 million cases a day by Jan. 13. Fatalities due to the virus reached 584,000 this December, so the firm anticipates the number to climb to 25,000 a day by Jan. 23.

A week before, Airfinity announced different estimates based on its model, saying China could be seeing 5,000 deaths a day while new cases could reach 3.7 million a day in a January peak and 4.2 million a day in March.

The Chinese government made an abrupt policy U-turn on Dec. 7, insisting that a COVID death should be defined as an individual who passes away from respiratory failure as a result of COVID-19.

The policy change means deaths from other diseases, complications and conditions would not be counted as COVID deaths even if the deceased had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Because of this, local authorities only reported 10 COVID deaths on the day of the policy update, according to Medscape.

Chinese officials also maintained on Wednesday that the country’s COVID death toll only stood at 5,246 since the pandemic started in 2020. International media have since accused China of downplaying its official tally.

International experts worry that the move would make it harder for them to accurately monitor the situation. They also fear that the surge in China could pave the way for newer variants to spark another pandemic wave in other countries.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has since announced a new requirement for air passengers flying out of China to the country. Travelers would be required to present negative COVID-19 test results two days before boarding their U.S.-bound flights regardless of nationality and vaccination status.