China says Covid-19 under control

China says Covid-19 under control

Updated: 1 month, 28 days, 21 hours, 15 minutes, 1 second ago

BEIJING: China said on Monday that the Covid-19 situation in the country was at a “low level”, and that fever clinic visits due to the coronavirus during the Lunar New Year dropped about 40 per cent from before the week-long holiday.

“The overall epidemic situation in the country has entered a low level, and the epidemic situation in various places has maintained a steady downward trend,” National Health Commission spokesperson Mi Feng told a media briefing on Monday .

Travel domestically as well as in and out of China during the holiday period rose sharply as millions boarded planes, trains, buses and highways after Beijing abruptly dismantled an almost three-year zero-Covid policy in early December.

Passenger trips during the annual travel rush period reached 892 million between Jan 7 and Jan 29, up 56pc from 2022, a transport ministry official told reporters, but down 46.9pc from the same period in 2019.

China’s sudden relaxation of Covid restrictions was followed by a wave of infections across its 1.4 billion population.

A prominent government scientist said on Jan 21 that 80pc of people had already been infected — making remote the possibility of a big rebound in cases in the coming months. Some experts had warned that Lunar New Year travel, known before the pandemic as the world’s largest migration of people, would trigger a wave of infections in rural areas less equipped to deal with them.

Last week, however, the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said there was no significant rebound in cases during the holiday, the number of severe Covid cases and deaths had dropped, and no new mutant strains had been identified.

The CDC also said last week critically ill Covid cases in China fell 72pc from a peak early this month while daily deaths among Covid patients in hospitals dropped 79pc from their peak.

Some global experts have said China’s reported data on Covid-related deaths may vastly undercount the actual total because it excludes those who die at home, while some doctors have said they were discouraged from citing Covid as a cause of death.

Covid still global emergency: WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday that Covid-19 continues to constitute a public health emergency of international concern, its highest form of alert. The pandemic was likely in a “transition point” that continues to need careful management to “mitigate the potential negative consequences”, the agency added in a statement.

It is three years since the WHO first declared that Covid represented a global health emergency. More than 6.8 million people have died during the outbreak, which has touched every country on Earth, ravaging communities and economies.

However, the advent of vaccines and treatments has changed the pandemic situation considerably since 2020, and WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said he hopes to see an end to the emergency this year, particularly if access to the counter-measures can be improved globally.

“We remain hopeful that in the coming year, the world will transition to a new phase in which we reduce (Covid) hospitalisations and deaths to their lowest possible level, Tedros told a separate WHO meeting on Monday.

Advisers to the WHO expert committee on the pandemic’s status said in December that it was likely not the moment to end the emergency given the uncertainty over the wave of infections in China after it lifted its strict zero-Covid measures at the end of 2022.

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2023