Friday, June 2, 2023

China faces a new Covid wave that could peak at 65 million cases a week

China is bracing for a new wave of Covid infections that could see as many as 65 million cases per week by the time the surge peaks at the end of June.
It’s a startling prediction in a country, where the pandemic originated in late 2019, that only months ago had enforced some of the harshest Covid control protocols on the planet. Now, with the latest omicron variant, XBB, fuelling a resurgence in cases, the response from China’s government and the public is muted at best.
The surge comes about six months after the country dismantled its sprawling infrastructure for dealing with Covid, including harsh lockdowns, mass testing, stifling quarantines and strict mask requirements.
The new wave’s data was revealed by respiratory disease specialist Zhong Nanshan at a medical conference this week in southern city of Guangzhou.
According to state media, he told the audience that the wave that started in late April was “anticipated,” and that his modelling suggested China could be approaching 40 million infections per week. By the end of June, he said, the weekly number of infections will peak at 65 million.
The United States, by comparison, was reporting more than 5 million cases a week at its peak last January.
Though China’s current wave will not equal the “tsunami” of cases it experienced in December and January, older people and those with underlying diseases are still relatively under-vaccinated and are at high risk for developing severe disease, said Jin Dong-yan, a virologist at University of Hong Kong.


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