China faces new Covid wave from XBB variant -News

Beijing – China welcome new wave Coronavirus By the time the surge peaks in late June, there could be as many as 65 million infections a week.

That’s an astonishing prediction for a country where the pandemic began in late 2019, and was only enforced a few months ago Some of the toughest Covid control protocols on this planet.Now, with The latest omicron variant, XBBfueling the resurgence of cases, the response from the Chinese government and public has been muted at best.

The surge occurred about six months after the country dismantled the vast infrastructure Used in response to Covid, including draconian lockdowns, mass testing, suffocating quarantines and strict mask requirements.

“People have different views on this wave,” said Zhang Qi, 30, who works for a financial company in the northern city of Tianjin. “Last time, everyone was scared, but now they think it’s no big deal,” she told NBC News on Thursday.

Respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan revealed the New Wave data at a medical conference in the southern city of Guangzhou this week. He told the audience that the wave that started in late April was “expected,” and that his modeling suggested China could be approaching 40 million infections a week, according to state media. Weekly infections will peak at 65 million by the end of June, he said.

By comparison, the United States was reporting more than 5 million cases a week at its peak in January last year. Like the U.S., China stopped providing weekly case updates this month, making it difficult to know the true extent of the current outbreak.

The State Department stated that the U.S. test requirements imposed Travelers from China before January march lifted it, is discussing a second wave of Covid-19 in China with allies and partners, but declined to say whether travel restrictions are being considered. Spokesman Matt Miller said the department will work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor the situation before updating the travel guidance.

“Obviously, we don’t want to see people suffering from Covid-19 anywhere,” Miller said Wednesday, adding that the U.S. government remains committed to working with China “to address transnational challenges, including global health issues and maintaining open communications.” channel”.

Various versions of the omicron subvariant, including XBB 1.5, XBB.1.16 (also known as “Arcturus”), and XBB.1.9.1, have been circulating in the United States since December and account for nearly all current infections in the country .Hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. continue to decline even though the CDC does not regularly track new cases and most new infections may not be counted

Experts say the United States already has strong immunity to the highly transmissible virus.

period China’s first EuropeanMicron the waves A different omicron variant infects millions of people every day in December and January, Overwhelmed by hospitals and crematoria in cities across the country. Store shelves were stripped of fever-reducing pills and schools were closed.

Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in January that about 80% of China’s 1.4 billion population was infected during that wave of the epidemic. But in the months since, immunity may have waned, increasing the risk of reinfection.

The government has tentatively approved two vaccines targeting the XBB subvariant, and others may soon be approved, Chung told a medical conference.

While China’s current wave won’t match the “tsunami” of cases experienced last December and January, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions are still relatively under-vaccinated and at high risk of developing serious illness, said Dong Jin, MD. Yan said. Virologist at the University of Hong Kong.

“But there are fewer people, so fortunately the hospital can take better care of them,” he said.

Joey Wang, a 24-year-old student in Hebei province, said many people found their Covid symptoms less severe this time around. But the change in government messaging also appeared to ease public concerns.

“No more media trying to intimidate the public, no more ‘fight the epidemic’ style short videos to remind people, no more hard-core measures like lockdowns,” he said.

The low-key response from Beijing comes as it tries to revive the economy and reassure U.S. and other foreign companies that would react negatively to the reintroduction of restrictions.

“The implementation of Covid-zero has caused a lot of disruption to businesses,” said Michael Hart, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, “so we have repeatedly said to the Chinese government that what businesses need is stability and clarity so that they to plan.”

Finance employee Zhang said colleagues who had recently tested positive chose to come to work anyway, in stark contrast to the first wave when everyone was working from home for extended periods.

“When I look back at such strict Covid measures, it feels like a dream,” she said. “If we end up here, it makes me wonder if all these strict lockdowns are the right thing to do.”

Janis Mackey Frayer reported from Beijing, and Jennifer Jett from Hong Kong.

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