Wall Street Times

COVID cases touch 900 million in China

Image Source: NPR

COVID cases in China have continued to rise irrespective of what is obtained globally.

According to a Peking University study, nearly 900 million Chinese citizens were infected with the coronavirus as of January 11. Even with the easing of lockdowns globally, China’s new COVID cases continues to skyrocket.

According to the report, the virus infects 64% of the country’s population.

It ranks Gansu province highest, with 91% of the population affected, followed by Yunnan (84%) and Qinghai (80%).

A well-known Chinese epidemiologist has also anticipated increased COVID cases in rural China over the lunar new year.

According to Zeng Guang, former director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control, the peak of China’s COVID cases wave is expected to last two to three months.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese are returning home, many for the first time since the pandemic began, in preparation for the lunar new year on January 23.

China has ceased publishing daily COVID statistics after abandoning zero-COVID.

However, as the virus has spread throughout the country, hospitals in big cities, where healthcare services are better and more easily available, have been overloaded with COVID patients.

Mr. Zeng stated earlier this month at an event that it was “time to focus on rural areas,” according to the Caixin news site.

He claimed that many elderly, sick, and disabled persons in rural were already falling behind in terms of COVID cases treatment.

Only China’s central Henan province has published information on infection rates; earlier this month, a health official reported that almost 90% of the population had COVID, with numbers similar in urban and rural areas.

However, government officials claim that the peak of infections has passed in many provinces and cities.

The Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, which formally begin on January 21, attract the world’s largest yearly inflow of people.

Tens of millions have already traveled, and two billion trips are expected.

China abruptly abandoned its zero COVID policies this month. On Sunday, it also reopened its borders.

Over the last month, official data shows five or fewer deaths each day, which contradicts the massive lineups seen at funeral homes and stories of deaths on social media.

Chinese officials announced in December that they intended to publish monthly rather than daily updates on the country’s COVID situation.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), China, which stopped reporting COVID fatalities on Tuesday, is significantly underreporting COVID deaths.

In response, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin underlined at a routine news briefing on Thursday that Beijing has supplied COVID data “in a timely, open, and transparent manner under the law,” having held technical discussions with the WHO over the last month.

According to international health experts, at least a million COVID-related deaths are expected in China this year. However, since the pandemic began, Beijing has officially reported just over 5,000 deaths, one of the world’s lowest death rates.

China reopens its borders despite COVID cases

China has reopened its borders to international travelers for the first time since instituting travel restrictions in March 2020.

Incoming passengers will no longer be obliged to quarantine, signifying a drastic departure in the country’s COVID policy as the country faces a spike in cases.

They will still require documentation of a negative PCR test completed within 48 hours after leaving.

Many people are relieved to be reunited with family.

Four hundred thousand people are expected to travel to mainland China from Hong Kong in the coming weeks, with long waits for flights to places such as Beijing and Xiamen.

On Sunday, double-decker buses carrying visitors arrived at the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge to take buses to Guangdong province, including college students returning home.

The country’s reopening coincides with the start of “Chunyun,” the first phase of Lunar New Year travel. Prior to the epidemic, it was the world’s largest annual migration of people going home to spend time with family.

Two billion journeys are expected this Lunar New Year, more than double the amount traveled last year.

Some are concerned that opening the borders will promote COVID-19 transmission.

Some local bus drivers told the BBC that they are afraid of acquiring the virus from incoming travelers and that their employers should provide them with additional protection.

Over the previous three years, China has had one of the strongest COVID health policies in the world, with many lockdowns and frequent testing procedures that have significantly harmed the country’s economy.

Following countrywide protests, the government recently changed that policy, which was sparked by a fire in a high-rise building in Xinjiang province that killed ten people. Many Chinese felt the long-standing COVID restrictions played a role in the deaths; however, authorities denied this.

There have been reports of hospitals and crematoriums being overcrowded since China abandoned key parts of its COVID zero policy, but the country has stopped disclosing case data and recorded only two deaths on Saturday.

Read Also: China criticizes mandatory COVID testing

On the same day, the Chinese government blocked over 1,000 social media profiles that were critical of handling the infection.

The projected increase in cases and travel out of China has prompted several countries, including the United Kingdom, to impose requirements for a negative COVID-19 test on anyone entering from China, infuriating the Chinese authorities.