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

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

Lunar New Year trip: China says 80% of population has had Covid, rebound 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 Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Saturday – on the eve of the Lunar New Year – that the current “epidemic wave has already infected around 80% of the population”. in the country of 1.4 billion people. people.

His request came amid concerns that the travel rush taking 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 that scenario was unlikely because so many people had already been infected.

“Over the next two to three months, the possibility of a full-scale Covid-19 rebound or a second wave of infections across the country is very low,” 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 reunions for the first time. without domestic travel restrictions since the start of the pandemic over three years ago.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported on Sunday that more than 26 million passenger trips were made on the eve of the Lunar New Year.

This is 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 holiday gatherings on the eve of the start of the Lunar New Year, CCTV added.

The country’s road transport system recorded more than 20 million same-day passenger trips, 55.1 percent more than in 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 Spring Festival travel rush via rail, highway, water and l air, up 47.9% from the same period last year, according to CCTV.

Previously, research by Peking University’s National School of Development had suggested that more than 900 million people, or 64% of China’s population, were ‘likely’ to have been infected with Covid-19. to January 11.

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

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

Chinese health authorities made similar statements, saying on Thursday that visits to fever clinics and Covid hospitalizations in China have declined since their peaks in late December and early January respectively.

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

Nearly 60,000 people with Covid died in Chinese hospitals between December 8 and January 12 after China abruptly abandoned its “zero-Covid” policy, according to government data.

However, the World Health Organization’s Executive Director for 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 intensive care admissions, as well as deaths.

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

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