As five additional deaths were reported by authorities, cities across China scrambled Tuesday to build fever screening centers and install beds in hospitals.
China began this month to dismantle its “zero COVID” lockdown and testing regime. This was in response to protests over curbs that kept the virus from spreading for three years, but came at great cost to the country’s economy and second largest.
As the virus spreads across a nation of over 1.4 billion people, who have been protected for so many years, concerns are growing about potential deaths and virus mutations, and their impact on trade and commerce.
Alex Cook, Vice-Dean of Research at the Saw Swee Hock Schools of Public Health, National University of Singapore, stated that every new outbreak in a country carries the possibility of developing new strains.
China must go though a huge wave of COVID-19 in order to become an endemic country. It will need to do this without the risk of economic and political chaos that comes with lockdowns.
Ned Price, spokesperson for U.S. State Department said Monday that the possibility of the virus spreading in China and mutating was “a danger for everyone”.
Five COVID related deaths were reported by Beijing on Tuesday. These are two more COVID fatalities than the Monday incident. China reported only 5,242 deaths from COVID since late 2019 when the pandemic hit Wuhan’s central city. This is a low number by international standards.
There are growing doubts about whether the statistics accurately reflect the real impact of the disease that has ravaged cities since China removed all mandatory testing and curbs on December 7.
Some hospitals were overwhelmed, and pharmacies have been empty of medicine. Many people are now in self-imposed lockdowns which strain delivery services.
Zhang, a Beijing-based delivery worker aged 31, said that it was a heavy task to suddenly reopen the pharmacy when there wasn’t enough medication available. He declined to reveal his name. But I’m in favor of the reopening.
According to health professionals, 60% of Chinese people could become infected in the coming months. This is equivalent to 10% worldwide. More than 2,000,000 could also be affected.
Beijing’s capital was under surveillance by security personnel who inspected the entry to a COVID-19-designated crematorium. Reuters journalists witnessed a line of hearses with workers wearing hazmat suits and carrying dead bodies inside. Reuters couldn’t determine if these deaths were caused by COVID.
Beijing has been dubbed the most dangerous city for infection. Commuters were back in Beijing to commute and the streets are coming alive again after last week’s largely empty state.
Shanghai’s streets were fuller than Beijing’s and the subways were half-full in Shanghai.
Yang said that people are not coming to the gym because they feel sick. However, most of the time, Yang is a Shanghai trainer.
In recent weeks, top health officials have softened the tone about the danger posed by this disease. This is a change from the previous messages that said the virus needed to be eliminated to save lives as the rest the world opens up.
The possibility of Omicron becoming more powerful has also been minimized by them.
Zhang Wenhong, an internationally renowned infectious disease specialist said that there is low chance of one.
However, the virus continues to threaten China’s fragile healthcare system.
The cities are increasing their efforts to build fever clinics and expand ICUs. These facilities will help to stop the spread of contagious diseases in hospitals.
In China, Shanghai and Chengdu were among the top cities that announced hundreds of fever clinics in recent weeks. Some are located within converted sports venues.
China’s economy is being hampered by the virus, which will cause it to shrink by 3% in 2018, its lowest performance since nearly 50 years. Economists claim that truck drivers and workers falling ill slow down production and disrupt logistics.
According to a World Economics survey, China’s confidence in business fell to its lowest level since January 2013 according Monday.
The world’s largest oil importer and top crude producer has seen less industrial activity, which has limited gains in crude oil prices. This has led to a drop in copper prices.
China maintained its benchmark lending rates unaffected for the fourth month in a row on Tuesday.