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Pervez Saleem (Producer/Director)

China says Covid outbreak has infected 80pc of population

Courtesy: Dawn News/Reuters

The possibility of a big Covid-19 rebound in China over the next two or three months is remote as 80 per cent of people have been infected, a prominent government scientist said on Saturday.

The mass movement of people during the ongoing Lunar New Year holiday period may spread the pandemic, boosting infections in some areas, but a second Covid wave is unlikely in the near term, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on the Weibo social media platform.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese are travelling across the country for holiday reunions that had been suspended under recently eased Covid curbs, raising fears of fresh outbreaks in rural areas less equipped to manage large outbreaks.

China has passed the peak of Covid patients in fever clinics, emergency rooms and with critical conditions, a National Health Commission official said on Thursday.

Nearly 60,000 people with Covid had died in hospital as of Jan 12, roughly a month after China abruptly dismantled its zero-Covid policy, according to government data.

But some experts said that figure probably vastly undercounts the full impact, as it excludes those who die at home, and because many doctors have said they are discouraged from citing Covid as a cause of death.

Holiday rush

On Friday, people across China crowded into trains and buses for one of its busiest days of travel in years feeding fears of new surges in a raging Covid-19 outbreak that officials say has hit its peak.

In comments reported by state media late on Thursday, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan said the virus was at a “relatively low” level, while health officials said the number of Covid patients in hospitals and with critical conditions was on the decline.

“Recently, the overall pandemic in the country is at a relatively low level,” Sun said in comments reported by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

“The number of critical patients at hospitals is decreasing steadily, though the rescue mission is still heavy.”

She spoke on the eve of one of the most frenetic travel days in China since the start of the pandemic, as millions of city-dwellers travel to their hometowns for the Lunar New Year holiday that officially begins on Saturday.

More than 2bn trips are expected to take place across China between January 7 and February 15, the government estimates.

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