China covid cases: Several local governments in China have encouraged people with mild cases of the COVID-19 pandemic to go to work this week, another sign of the country’s difficulty as delays in virus containment measures trigger a wave of infections and are growing. dead
Health authorities reported on Tuesday (Dec 20) that five people had died in the past 24 hours, all in Beijing, raising concerns that the toll could rise sharply after the lifting of most zero-covid-19 restrictions. The official toll likely underestimates the true number, and it is unclear how the release of the virus will play out in China and whether the health system can handle a surge in cases nationwide.
Guiyang, a city in southern Guizhou province, proposed that infected people with few or no symptoms go to work in various sectors, including government offices, state-owned enterprises, medical, health and emergency workers, and those in express delivery and supermarkets.
That’s a big change from just a few weeks ago, when China’s policy was to isolate anyone infected in a hospital or government-run facility. Tuesday’s announcement followed similar ones earlier this week in the cities of Wuhu and Chongqing in Anhui province. The moves appear to be in response to labor shortages that have affected medical care and food deliveries.
They also reflect the difficulty officials face in trying to revive an economy that had been crushed by pandemic cuts, and now that it has been removed, it is slowed by sick workers. China has long praised its restrictive zero-COVID approach of lockdowns, quarantines and mandatory testing as keeping the number of cases and deaths relatively low. However, the policy put Chinese society and the national economy under tremendous strain and led to rare anti-government protests, apparently persuading the ruling Communist Party to heed outside advice and change its strategy.
China covid deaths:
Now, unofficial reports suggest a flurry of new coronavirus cases, and relatives of victims and people who work in the funeral business say deaths related to COVID-19 are on the rise. Wang Guangfa, a doctor at the Respiratory Department of the First Hospital of Peking University, warned that Beijing will see a peak in serious cases in the next week or two.
“Today’s wave of infections resembles an epidemic tsunami,” he said in a Q&A posted online this week. He also said that the north of China will have a higher rate of serious cases than the south because of the cold weather.
Typically, cases of severe illness and death will cluster among the elderly or those who have not received booster shots of vaccines, said Dr. Gagandeep Kang, who studies viruses at the Christian Medical College in Vellore, India. China, despite fully vaccinating 90.3% of the population, has only given a booster dose to 60.5%. China should prioritize giving boosters, especially to those over 60, to avoid high death tolls, Kang said.
What does the National Health Commission say?
The National Health Commission said the five newly recorded deaths brought the country’s death toll to 5,242, a relatively low number globally but likely to rise significantly following moves by the government to move away from the “zero-Covid” policy.
With people testing and recovering at home, China has said it is no longer possible to keep an accurate count of new cases, making it significantly harder to gauge the state of the current wave of infections and its direction. Some scientific models have estimated that the number will rise with the death toll in the tens or hundreds of thousands.
China is trying to convince reluctant elderly and other at-risk people to get vaccinated, with apparently moderate success. Vaccination centers visited in recent days have been largely empty and there has not been much of an advertising push in the fully state-controlled media. Another major concern is protecting health resources in smaller cities and the vast rural hinterland ahead of the Lunar New Year travel rush in January, when migrant workers return to their hometowns.
The number of fever clinics has been expanded in both urban and rural areas and people have been asked to stay at home unless they are seriously ill to conserve resources. Hospitals are also understaffed, with reports that staff have been asked to return to their jobs as long as they are free of fever.
The number of cases and deaths in all countries is believed to underestimate the true toll of the virus, but there are particular concerns in China. Chinese health authorities count only those who died directly from COVID-19, excluding deaths attributed to underlying conditions such as diabetes and heart disease that increase the risk of serious illness. In many other countries, guidelines state that any death in which the coronavirus is a factor or contributor is considered to be related to COVID-19.
(with AP entries)
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