The peak of COVID in China will last 2-3 months, next time it will hit rural areas – expert

The peak of COVID in China will last 2-3 months, next time it will hit rural areas - expert
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  • The peak of the COVID wave lasting 2-3 months – epidemiologist
  • The elderly in rural areas are especially at risk
  • People’s mobility indicators are increasing, but have not yet fully recovered
  • A case of the XBB subvariant was found in China

BEIJING, Jan 13 (Reuters) – The peak of the COVID-19 wave in China is expected to last two to three months and will soon swell in vast rural areas with relatively few medical resources, a top Chinese epidemiologist said.

Infections are expected to increase in rural areas as hundreds of millions of people travel to their hometowns for the Lunar New Year holidays, which officially begin in January. 21, which before the pandemic was known as the world’s largest annual human migration.

Last month, China abruptly abandoned a strict anti-virus mass lockdown that sparked historic protests across the country in late November, and finally reopened its borders last Sunday.

According to state media, the sudden lifting of restrictions brought the virus to China’s 1.4 billion people, more than a third of whom live in areas where infections have already peaked.

Zeng Guang, a former chief epidemiologist at China’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the worst of the outbreak was not yet over, according to a report published in local media outlet Caixin on Thursday.

“Our priority is focused on big cities. It’s time to focus on rural areas,” Zeng said.

I said that in villages where medical facilities are relatively poor, large numbers of people are left behind, including the elderly, sick and disabled.

The World Health Organization also warned this week about the risks posed by holiday travel.

The U.N. agency said China is underreporting deaths from COVID, although it is now reporting more on its occurrence.

“Since the outbreak, China has shared relevant information and data with the international community in an open, transparent and responsible manner,” Foreign Ministry official Wu Xi told reporters.

Chinese virologists said on Friday that they had discovered an infection with the Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5, described by WHO scientists as the most transmissible subvariant so far, following its rapid spread in the United States in December. There is no evidence yet that it is more severe.

Health authorities have been reporting five or fewer deaths a day for the past month, figures that do not match the long lines seen at funeral homes and body bags pouring out of overcrowded hospitals.

China has not reported any COVID deaths since Monday. Officials said in December they planned monthly rather than daily updates.

While international health experts predict at least 1 million COVID-related deaths this year, China has reported just over 5,000, one of the world’s lowest death rates since the pandemic began.


Concerns about data transparency were among the factors that prompted more than a dozen countries to require travelers from China to undergo pre-departure COVID tests.

Beijing, which has closed its borders to the rest of the world for three years and still requires all visitors to be tested before travel, is protesting the curbs.

Wu said the accusations by individual countries were “baseless, unscientific and baseless”.

This week, tensions rose with South Korea and Japan, while China responded by suspending short-term visas for its citizens. The two countries are also restricting flights, testing travelers from China and quarantining those who test positive.

Some parts of China were returning to normal life.

There are especially residents in larger cities moving more and morepoints to a gradual upturn in consumption and economic activity, though so far slow.

An immigration official said on Friday that there have been an average of 490,000 daily visits to China since it reopened in January. 8, only 26% of pre-pandemic levels.

Singapore-based Chu Wenhong was finally among the winners met with his parents for the first time in three years.

“They both have COVID and are quite old. I actually feel very lucky because it wasn’t too serious for them, but their health is not that good,” he said.


While China has given the reopening Increase, raise for financial assets globally, policymakers around the world are concerned that this could revive inflationary pressures.

However, in December trade information The release on Friday offered reasons to be cautious about the pace of China’s recovery.

Jin Chaofeng, whose company exports outdoor rattan furniture, said there are no expansion or hiring plans for 2023.

“With the lifting of COVID restrictions, domestic demand is expected to improve, but not exports,” he said.

China’s economy is expected to grow 2.8% in 2022, the second slowest since 1976, the final year of Mao Zedong’s decade-long Cultural Revolution, a Reuters poll showed next week.

Some analysts say last year’s lockdowns will leave lasting marks on China, including by making them worse. an already bleak demographic outlook.

Growth is then seen rising to 4.9% this year, well below the pre-pandemic trend.

Additional reporting from Beijing and Shanghai newsrooms; Written by Marius Zaharia; Edited by Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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