COVID cases surge in China

In remarkable data released by China, 88.5m people in the Chinese province of Henan have been infected with Covid. The statistics show that 90% of people in Henan, China’s third-biggest province, have been infected. 

Provincial official, Kan Quancheng, announced the news in a press conference on Monday and it comes on the back of waves of anti-lockdown protests across the country. 

After China ditched its zero-covid policies in December, cases have surged up and down the country putting nations across the globe on red alert. Many nations, including the United States of America and the United Kingdom, have placed restrictions on travel to and from parts of China as a result.

Mr. Kan hasn’t supplied a timeline for when these infections took place; however, it is fair to assume that the vast majority occurred after the relaxation of rules in December. He did say, however, that visits to fever clinics peaked on December 19th but have been trending downwards ever since. 

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Conflicting Data

The data released by Henan officials are at odds with the data released by the central Chinese government which is keen to downplay the rise in cases across the country. According to their data, 120,000 people in the country have been infected, and 30 have died since the rules were relaxed last month. 

Clearly, if 88.5m are said to have been infected in Henan alone, then the “official” data supplied by the Chinese government is significantly wide of the mark. With 1.4 billion people living in China, it means that more than 5% of the entire population currently have Covid in Henan alone. 

It isn’t just in Henan, where local data isn’t matching up with central data. On Christmas Eve, a senior health official in Qingdao, the largest city in the Shandong Province, reported that around 500,000 people were being infected with Covid each day. This news wasn’t reported for long in China, prompting people to speculate a central cover-up. 

With mass testing no longer being employed across the country, it’s going to be difficult to find a true representation of the outbreak in China. This, in turn, is likely going to mean further restrictions being placed on flights in and out of China until the situation is better understood. 

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Travel Impact

The rise in cases in China hasn’t derailed plans to relax quarantine requirements for international visitors. On Sunday, Beijing lifted this requirement and opened up its border with Hong Kong for the first time since the pandemic began three years ago. 

Official data before the weekend had shown that more Chinese people were travelling domestically than they were this time last year. On Saturday, 34.7 million travelled domestically in China which was an increase of more than 30% on the same day last year. 

Although domestic travel is up, international travel for people in China has hit another bump in the road. The United Kingdom announced last week that anyone flying into the country from China will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result before departure. 

This news came a couple of weeks after the United States announced the same measures for flights coming into the US from China. With cases continuing to surge, these measures aren’t going to be relaxed any time soon.

Later this month, Chinese nationals are going to be celebrating the Lunar New Year which often results in families and friends getting together from all corners of the country. It is estimated that over two billion individual journeys are set to take place for the celebration, meaning even more infections are inevitable. 

 

 

Andrew Delaney
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