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

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

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

Wu Zunyou, the chief epidemiologist of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Saturday, Lunar New Year’s Eve, that the current “epidemic wave has already infected about 80% of people” in the country of 1,400 million inhabitants. people.

His claim came amid concerns that the travel rush that takes place around the Lunar New Year holiday period, sometimes dubbed the “world’s largest human migration,” could spread the virus to the countryside and cause a second wave of infections

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

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

China’s Ministry of Transportation 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. no domestic travel restrictions since the start of the pandemic. 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 only 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 festive gatherings the day before the start of the Lunar New Year, CCTV added.

The country’s road transport system recorded more than 20 million passenger trips in a single day, 55.1% higher than the figure for 2022.

As of Friday, China’s transportation system had handled more than 560 million passenger trips in the first 15 days of the 40-day ongoing Spring Festival travel rush by rail, road, water and air, a 47.9% more than in the same period last year, according to closed circuit television.

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

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

By the end of December, infections had peaked across the country, according to the research.

Chinese health authorities have made similar claims, saying Thursday that fever clinic visits and Covid hospitalizations in China have declined from their peaks in late December and early January, respectively.

According to authorities, the number of Covid patients needing critical 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 scrapped its “covid zero” policies, according to government data.

However, the World Health Organization’s executive director of health emergencies, 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 nation’s top health officials, in the first 20 days of December, nearly 250 million people in China may have been infected with covid. If correct, the estimate, which CNN cannot independently confirm, would represent about 18% of China’s population.

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