China’s Covid infections have peaked in several cities: health expert

Beijing, Dec 29 (EFE).- Massive surges of coronavirus infections have reached their peak in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Tianjin and Chengdu, health expert Zunyou Wu said Thursday, as several countries introduced restrictions on travelers coming from the East Asian nation.

The Chinese capital was one of the first cities to face a huge spike after authorities ended the country’s strict zero-Covid policy earlier this month.

Wu, the chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control, said the virus was spreading rapidly in the central regions of Sichuan and Chongqing, as well as some other southern provinces.

“In places like Shanghai (east), Hubei (center) and Hunan (center), the pandemic is still quickly spreading,” he told local media.

Wu expected recently that there would be three waves of infections in the country: in December after the rules were lifted, at the end of January due to trips during the Chinese New Year, and when people return to work from their New Year vacations.

Up to 30% of the Chinese population could contract the virus between December and March, he estimated.

Meanwhile, Chinese foreign minister Wang Wenbin called Thursday for “science-based and proportionate” measures from countries that have started imposing restrictions on travelers coming from China.

“For all countries, Covid response measures need to be science-based and proportionate and apply equally to people of all countries without affecting normal travel and people-to-people exchange and cooperation,” he said during a press conference.

China’s top diplomat also hoped countries would “work together to ensure safe cross-border travel, keep global industrial and supply chains stable, and contribute to global solidarity against Covid and the world economic recovery.”

The United States, Italy, India, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia and Japan will require arrivals from China to show a negative Covid-19 test before entering due to the rising case numbers.

The European Union’s Health security committee is expected to meet later Thursday to discuss possible measures in response to the situation in China.

On Monday, the Chinese National Health Commission said that Covid-19 would be classed as a Category B disease and would no longer be treated as a top-level Category A as of January 8.

The Chinese health authorities have stopped publishing Covid-linked daily reports since last week, while the government has said that reports of deaths and infections will be issued weekly and eventually monthly.

According to a health specialist, deaths among Covid-infected patients with underlying diseases are not counted as deaths related to the virus.

Hospitals in major cities such as Beijing are under strain and have been suffering in caring for all patients, Chinese people have posted on social media.

Last week, the World Health Organization was “very concerned” and demanded more information about the evolving situation in China, to which Beijing responded that it has always shared in “a timely, open and transparent manner” since the beginning of the pandemic.

After a wave of protests in China, the government ended its zero-Covid policy on December 7 after nearly three years of lockdowns, mass testing, and other strict measures.EFE


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