Lunar New Year travel: China says 80% of population had Covid, unlikely to return

Lunar New Year travel: China says 80% of population had Covid, unlikely to return

Eight out of every 10 people in China are now 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 – the eve of the Lunar New Year – that “the epidemic wave of the hour has already infected about 80% of the people” in the country of 1.4 billion . people.

His claim came amid concerns that the travel rush around the Lunar New Year holiday period – sometimes called the ‘world’s largest human migration’ – could spread the virus to the countryside and lead to a second wave of infections. to cause.

But Wu, speaking on his personal social media account, said this was unlikely because so many people had already been arrested.

“In the next two to three months, there is little possibility of a large-scale rebound of Covid-19 or a second wave of infections across the country,” 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 more than three. long 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.

That is only half the number of travelers from the same day in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic, but 50.8% higher than 2022, he said.

More than 4.1 million people traveled by train and 756,000 people by air for holiday reunions on the day before the start of the New Year, according to CCTV.

The country’s road transport system registered more than 20 million passenger trips on the same day, 55.1% higher than the number from 2022.

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

Previously, research by the National School of Development at Peking University indicated that more than 900 million people, or 64% of China’s population, were “probably” infected with Covid-19 as of January 11.

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

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

Chinese health authorities have made similar claims, saying on Thursday that visits to fever clinics and Covid hospitals in China have declined since they peaked in late December and early January respectively.

According to the authorities, the number of Covid patients requiring critical care in hospitals is also at a peak.

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

However, the World Health Organization’s executive director for health emergencies Mike Ryan suggested earlier this month that the numbers 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 from the nation’s top health officials, in the first 20 days of December nearly 250 million people in China could have contracted Covid. If correct, the estimate – which CNN cannot independently confirm – is about 18% of China’s population.

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