A leading scientist says the Lunar New Year travel rush is unlikely to lead to an increase in COVID cases because most people have already been infected.
A senior government scientist said the prospect of a large-scale resurgence of COVID-19 in China over the next few months is remote as 80 percent of the country’s population has been infected.
Wu Zunyu, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Saturday that the mass movement of people during the current Lunar New Year holiday may spread the epidemic, increasing infections in some areas, but this is an unlikely second wave of COVID in the country. The next two to three months.
This is because the ongoing wave of the pandemic — mostly driven by multiple sub-branches of the Omicron strain — has “already infected 80 percent of the population,” it was quoted on the Weibo social media platform.
Wu’s statement came as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel across the country for a holiday reunion on holidays that have been put on hold under recently eased COVID-19 restrictions.
With about five billion passenger trips expected, fears have mounted of new outbreaks in rural areas less equipped to handle the high numbers of infections.
But the government moved to allay fears, with the National Health Commission saying Thursday that China had passed the peak of COVID-19 patients in fever clinics, emergency rooms and in critical cases.
Nearly 60,000 people with COVID-19 had died in hospital as of Jan. 12, according to government data, nearly a month after China abruptly dismantled its COVID-free policy.
But some experts said that number probably underestimates the full effect, because it excludes those who die at home and because many doctors said they discourage mentioning COVID-19 as the cause of death.
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