Since China abandoned its zero-Covid strategy, infections have been rising rapidly. In the third largest province in the country, 88.5 million inhabitants are said to have been infected. That’s 89 percent of the population.
After the end of the Covid 19 restrictions, corona infections skyrocketed in China. The government in Beijing, on the other hand, is trying to downplay the numbers. The virus has spread massively in Henan, one of the most populous provinces in the country. According to a representative of the authorities, almost 90 percent of the residents there were infected with the corona virus. As of Jan. 6, 89 percent of the population in central China has been infected, said the director of Henan’s health commission, Kan Quancheng.
According to official figures from the central government, only a total of 120,000 people have been infected across the country since the end of the Covid policy at the end of 2022. On Christmas Day, a senior health official in the port city of Qingdao reported that half a million people would become infected every day in the eight-million city alone.
88.5 million people infected with Corona
With around 99.4 million inhabitants, Henan is the Chinese province with the third highest population. 89 percent of the population corresponds to around 88.5 million people. The peak of doctor visits for febrile illnesses in Henan was reached on December 19, Kan said. Since then, the number of infections has steadily decreased.
China’s authorities are expecting a new wave of corona infections around the Chinese New Year on January 22nd. Because of the celebrations, millions of Chinese make their way, especially from the big cities to rural areas, to celebrate the New Year with their families. At the beginning of the massive wave of travel, the authorities already counted more than 34 million trips on Saturday.
In China, the number of corona infections has risen explosively in recent weeks. After nationwide protests over the strict corona measures, the Chinese government abruptly abandoned its previous zero-Covid strategy in mid-December. Since Sunday, traveling to and from China has also been significantly easier again: there is no quarantine requirement for those entering the country, they only have to present a negative corona test that is no more than 48 hours old.
Variants in China already exist in Europe
With regard to the corona situation in China, the Director of the WHO Regional Office Europe, Hans Kluge, shared the current assessment of the EU health authority ECDC that the increase in the number of cases there is unlikely to have a major impact on the epidemiological situation in Europe. According to available information, the variants circulating in China are those that have been seen in Europe and elsewhere.
However, one should not become complacent, said Kluge. It is not unreasonable for countries to take precautionary measures to protect their populations. However, states that introduce precautionary travel measures should ensure that these are science-based, appropriate and non-discriminatory.
The Chinese ambassador in Berlin, Wu Ken, accused the EU states of discrimination because of the compulsory corona test for travelers to China. “Pointing the finger at others hasn’t solved a single problem,” Wu told Handelsblatt.
A decision such as a corona test obligation must “be made on a scientific basis”. “It seems to me that there is also discrimination involved,” Wu added. “We reject this.” When objected that China itself requires travelers to have a negative corona test no more than 48 hours old, Wu replied that this measure was not aimed at specific countries.
XBB.1.5 variant on the rise
According to WHO information, the subline XBB.1.5 of the coronavirus variant Omicron is also on the rise in Europe. Recent data from some countries in the region are beginning to point to the increasing presence of XBB.1.5, WHO Director Kluge said at an online press conference in Copenhagen. Cases would be discovered in small but growing numbers. We are working to assess the potential impact of this. After three long years of the pandemic, one cannot afford any further pressure on the health systems.