Lunar New Year trip: China says 80% of population had Covid, recovery unlikely

Lunar New Year trip: China says 80% of population had Covid, recovery unlikely

Lunar New Year trip: China says 80% of population had Covid, recovery unlikely

Eight out of 10 people in China have now been infected with Covid-19, a top government scientist has claimed.

Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at China’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Saturday – Lunar New Year’s Eve – that the current “epidemic wave has already infected about 80% of people” in the country of 1.4 billion people. .

His claim came amid concerns that the travel rush taking place over the Lunar New Year holiday period – sometimes dubbed “the world’s largest human migration” – could spread the virus inland and cause a second wave of infections. infections.

But Wu, speaking on his personal social media account, said that scenario was unlikely as many people had already realized it.

“In the next two to three months, the possibility of a large-scale recovery from Covid-19 or a second wave of infections across the country is very small,” Wu said.

China’s Ministry of Transport estimates that more than 2 billion passenger trips will take place during the 40-day Lunar New Year season, as people across the country return to their hometowns for family gatherings for the first time without travel restrictions. households since the beginning of the pandemic more than three years ago.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported on Sunday that more than 26 million passenger trips were made on Lunar New Year’s Eve.

That’s just half the number of same-day travelers in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic, but 50.8% more than in 2022, he said.

More than 4.1 million people traveled by train and 756,000 people by plane for holiday gatherings the day before the start of the Lunar New Year, added CCTV.

The country’s road transport system recorded more than 20 million passenger trips on the same day, 55.1% more than the 2022 figure.

As of Friday, China’s transportation system had processed more than 560 million passenger trips in the first 15 days of the 40-day Spring Festival run by rail, road, water and air, an increase of 47.9% over the same period last year, second for CCTV.

Previously, research by the National School of Development at Peking University suggested that more than 900 million people, or 64% of the Chinese population, were “likely” to have been infected with Covid-19 as of January 11.

The university’s research also suggested that the epidemic peaked across much of the country on Dec. 20, about 13 days after China began easing its Covid restrictions.

In late December, infections peaked nationwide, according to the survey.

Chinese health officials made similar claims, saying on Thursday that visits to fever clinics and hospitalizations for Covid in China had slowed from their peaks in late December and early January, respectively.

According to officials, the number of Covid patients needing intensive care in hospitals has also peaked.

Nearly 60,000 people with Covid died in Chinese hospitals between Dec. 8 and Jan. 12 after China abruptly abandoned its “covid zero” policies, according to government data.

However, the executive director for health emergencies at the World Health Organization, Mike Ryan, suggested earlier this month that the figures released by China “underrepresent the true impact of the disease” in terms of hospital and ICU admissions, as well as deaths.

According to an internal estimate by the country’s top health authorities, in the first 20 days of December, nearly 250 million people in China may have contracted Covid. If correct, the estimate – which CNN cannot independently confirm – would represent around 18% of China’s population.

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