WUHAN, Jan 1 (Reuters) – Thousands of Chinese took to the streets to mark the New Year as authorities and state media tried to reassure the public that the country-wide COVID-19 outbreak was under control and was nearing its peak.
Although many people in major cities have continued to isolate as the virus spreads through the population, new year’s festivities seemed mostly unaffected as people celebrated the end of 2022 and the shift to 2023.
In Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first identified in late 2019, residents said anxiety about the impact of easing strict zero-COVID restrictions on living with the disease had now subsided, at least for the young and healthy.
“Basically, now my friends and I feel relatively positive and optimistic,” said a 29-year-old tutor surnamed Wu. “A lot of people are dating.”
“We all know that especially the middle-aged and the elderly, especially those over 60, especially those with underlying diseases, will be affected by this virus,” he said.
A long line of people lined up at the emergency department of Wuhan Tongji Hospital, a major facility for COVID-19 patients, like Huang, a 72-year-old resident, who wanted to be identified only by her last name.
“I don’t feel well. I have no energy. I can’t breathe. I was in good health. They did X-rays to check my lungs… This hospital is very problematic, you have to wait a long time,” he said.
DATA UNDER EXAMINATION
China’s abrupt U-turn in COVID checks, as well as the accuracy of its case and mortality data, have come under increasing scrutiny both at home and abroad.
The rise in cases has raised new concerns about the health of the economy and in his first public comments since the policy change, President Xi Jinping In a New Year’s speech, he called for more effort and unity as China enters a “new phase.”
China reported one new death from COVID-19 on the mainland on December 2. 31, the same as a day earlier, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Sunday.
The official cumulative death toll in China now stands at 5,249, far lower than in other large countries. The government has rejected claims that it has deliberately underestimated the total number of deaths.
At the Hankou funeral home on the outskirts of Wuhan, an intermittent stream of mourners and hearses drivers would arrive on Sunday.
Staff at the site’s heavily guarded entrance refused to answer questions about their recent workloads. But funeral homes in other cities in China, including Chengdu and Beijing, said they were busier than ever since China abruptly abandoned its COVID restrictions last month.
The China CDC reported 5,138 officially confirmed cases on Saturday, but with mass testing no longer up and running, experts say the actual number of infections is significantly higher.
State media in the southeastern Chinese city of Guangzhou said on Sunday that daily cases peaked at around 60,000 recently, and are now hovering around 19,000.
Authorities have been trying to reassure the public that they have the situation under control and the state news agency Xinhua published an editorial on Sunday saying the current strategy was “a planned approach based on science” that reflects the changing nature of the virus.
Xinhua said separately that drug manufacturing has accelerated in the past month, with production of painkillers ibuprofen and paracetamol now at 190 million tablets a day, five times more than in early December.
Production of antigen test kits has nearly doubled to 110 million a day in a month, he said.
On Sunday, Australia and Canada joined the United States and others in requiring travelers from China to provide negative COVID-19 tests upon arrival. Morocco will impose a ban on people arriving from China, its foreign ministry said.
Australian Health Minister Mark Butler It said additional measures would also be considered amid concerns that China is not disclosing enough information about the nature and extent of the current outbreak.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen offered on Sunday to provide China with “necessary assistance” to help you deal with the increase in COVID-19 cases.
Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard in Wuhan and David Stanway in Shanghai; Edited by Neil Fullick
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Leave a Comment