Health – 248 million Chinese infected with Corona – Health

Beijing (dpa) – In the massive wave of infections in China, according to internal estimates not officially confirmed, 248 million people, or 18% of the population, were infected with the coronavirus in the first three weeks of December. Thus, 37 million people were infected on Tuesday this week alone, according to notes from a meeting of the national health commission in Beijing circulating on social networks. Those involved in the discussion confirmed information provided by the Bloomberg news agency and the Financial Times.

The estimates come from the vice director of the health department, Sun Yang, as reported by the “Financial Times”. According to him, the virus continues to spread rapidly among billions of people. More than half of the 81 million inhabitants of Sichuan province (southwest China) or the 21 million of the capital Beijing are infected. Official statistics for the three weeks of December mentioned mention only 62,000 infections nationwide.

While hospitals are overcrowded and many crematoria can no longer cremate corpses fast enough, official figures no longer provide insight into the true extent of the wave of infections. According to expert projections, hundreds of thousands of deaths are to be expected. The discussion notes, however, do not address the number of deaths.

Zero-Covid policies increasingly weigh on China

After nearly three years of lockdowns, enforced quarantines and mass testing, the most populous country abruptly lifted its strict zero-Covid policy on December 7. The reason for this reversal was that infections with the new omicron variants were no longer as severe. But experts mainly saw the reason in the fact that the strict measures could no longer be maintained given the explosive spread. The restrictions had also placed a growing burden on the second-largest economy.

After Chinese experts warned of the dangers of coronavirus to justify the zero-Covid policy, the severity of the disease has been downplayed since the change of course. Senior government adviser and renowned epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan even suggested calling Covid-19 just the “corona cold”.

© dpa-infocom, dpa:221224-99-08043/2

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