China Covid surge: 1 million cases daily now, 4.2 million by March – new report

KATHMANDU: Covid cases in China: The Xi Jinping government has adopted a narrower definition for what is considered a death caused by Covid-19 making it difficult to count the number of dead.

China – struggling to contain possibly the biggest Covid-19 outbreak the world has ever seen – may be recording a million Covid-19 cases and 5,000 deaths every 24 hours, Bloomberg reported Thursday citing new research by a London-based analytics firm. According to Airfinity Ltd., the current wave of cases – exacerbated as much by China’s insistence on scrapping Covid protocols as by the emergence of BF.7, a new Omicron subvariant – daily new cases could increase to 3.7 million by next month and a frightening 4.2 million by March.

Airfinity Ltd.’s modelling of the scale and toll of China’s latest outbreak uses provincial data and underlines the impact of the Xi Jinping government abruptly dropping its controversial ‘zero Covid’ policy to what American epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding this week called the ‘let whoever needs to be infected, infected… let whoever needs to die, die’ approach.

The London group’s million+ daily cases warning ties in with what Wu Zunyou from China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, claimed.

According to him the ‘first wave (will) run from now until mid-January… second (will) likely follow soon after, and the third, he said, will run from late-February to mid-March – as people return to work from their holidays.

New rules for counting cases, deaths

China this morning claimed fewer than 3,000 new cases (excluding foreign arrivals) in the previous 24 hours, and zero deaths of Covid-19 in that time.

These, though, come after the government changed criteria for recording cases and deaths, meaning most are no longer counted. The ruling Chinese Communist Party has shut its mass-testing booths and scrapped efforts to include every infection in its daily tally. Residents must now rely on rapid tests – which are unreliable – and have no obligation to report results.

China’s health regulator has also – quietly – adopted a narrower definition for ‘death caused by Covid-19’, making it difficult to count the number of dead.

Even if China were to revert to a more inclusive definition the data will still not likely reflect the on-ground situation, experts told news agency Reuters, because so little testing – mass-testing booths have been closed – is being done.

Spike in daily cases not new

To be fair, the likely spike in China’s cases is not unexpected given the emergence of the BF.7 variant; when Omicron spread across the United States that country saw nearly 1.4 million cases every day in January. That coincided with global daily cases exceeding four million, according to Our World in Data.

However, Bloomberg and other media agencies have flagged an increasingly chaotic and worrying situation at hospitals across China, with medical staff and infrastructure unable to cope with the number of infected patients.

Pharmacies are turning customers away empty-handed because they have run out of medicines, leading many to turn to ‘natural remedies’ like consuming lemons and fruits rich in Vitamin C in an attempt to boost immunity levels.

Hindustan Times

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Thursday December 22, 2022, 02:34:22 PM |

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