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China Says COVID Outbreak Has Infected 80% of Population


Patients receive intravenous drips in an emergency ward in Beijing, Jan. 19, 2023.

The possibility of a big COVID-19 rebound in China over the next two or three months is remote because 80% of China’s population has been infected, a prominent government scientist said on Saturday.

The mass movement of people during the ongoing Lunar New Year holiday might spread the pandemic, boosting infections in some areas, but a second COVID wave is unlikely in the near term, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on the Weibo social media platform.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese are traveling across the country for holiday reunions that had been suspended under zero-COVID curbs that were eased recently, raising fear of fresh outbreaks in rural areas less equipped to manage large outbreaks.

An elderly patient watches a medical worker check on a woman as they receive intravenous drips in an emergency ward in Beijing, Jan. 19, 2023.
An elderly patient watches a medical worker check on a woman as they receive intravenous drips in an emergency ward in Beijing, Jan. 19, 2023.

China is past the peak of COVID-19 patients in fever clinics, emergency rooms and with critical conditions, a National Health Commission official said on Thursday.

Nearly 60,000 people with COVID had died in a hospital as of January 12, roughly a month after China abruptly dismantled its zero-COVID policy, according to government data.

But some experts said that figure probably vastly undercounts the full impact, as it excludes those who die at home, and because many doctors have said they are discouraged from citing COVID as a cause of death.

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