Covid in China: Xi Jinping worries about Lunar New Year hype – World Today News

Chinese President Xi Jinping said he was “concerned” by the epidemic situation in rural areas, where tens of millions of Chinese are now reuniting with their families for the lunar New Year holidays.

Authorities expect more than two billion trips (by car, train, plane, boat) between January 7 and February 15. The Year of the Rabbit begins on January 22nd.

The arrival in rural areas, sometimes medical deserts, of tens of millions of Chinese from cities where Covid has infected the vast majority of residents should cause an increase in the incidence.

Some 480 million trips have been made since January 7, up 47.1% year-over-year, according to government figures.

Travelers crowded on Thursday at the country’s main train stations, happy to be able to return home to spend the holidays starting on New Year’s Eve on Saturday night.

“I’m not afraid anymore!” a young woman who was interviewed in Shanghai told AFP who is about to return to the coastal city of Wenzhou (southeast).

“Last year I was very careful. This year I feel much bolder,” she says.

Another traveler said he returned home to his family for the first time in three years.

“One of the first things I do is hug my mom and dad!” he explains.

Other passengers are more concerned, such as two young women dressed in full hazmat suits.

“We are afraid of infecting our families, which is why we bought this,” one of them explains.

– “Spaces” –

The so-called “zero Covid” health policy was lifted in early December after an economic downturn and major demonstrations of hostility. Since then, the number of infections has skyrocketed.

In a series of video calls on Wednesday with medical staff, a Covid patient, or even workers, Xi Jinping expressed concern about the campaigns.

“I am particularly concerned about the rural areas and our farmer friends, who are many,” he said, according to the Xinhua news agency.

A woman wearing traditional dress at a night market in Jinghong, south China, January 9, 2023 (AFP – Noel CELIS)

“The conditions for access to quality medical care in rural areas are relatively limited, it is difficult to implement epidemic prevention and control measures there, so the task is difficult.”

While cities benefit from modern medical infrastructure, the situation is much more uncertain in rural areas.

Thus, Xi Jinping called for closing the “gaps” in the fight against Covid in rural areas.

The sharp rise in the number of cases since December, combined with the apparent lack of transparency in official statistics, has generated heated discussions on the Internet.

In this context, the Chinese Cyberspace Administration, the Internet policeman, said on Wednesday that it will intensify its crackdown on “false information” during the holidays to prevent “exaggeration of negative thoughts.”

The organization called for a crackdown on “rumours” and “(false) patient testimonies” fabricated, it said, to distract internet users. A campaign justified by the desire to exclude content that “misleads the public”.

– “A good choice” –

The number of daily Covid deaths could peak at 36,000 over the holidays, British medical analytics company Airfinity estimates.

The “zero Covid” policy included near-mandatory checks several times a week, mandatory quarantine or confinement, sometimes immediately after a few cases.

People sit at a bar in Dali, south China on January 14, 2023. (AFP - Noel SELIS)People sit at a bar in Dali, south China on January 14, 2023. (AFP – Noel SELIS)

The Chinese could no longer travel abroad if they simply wanted to do tourism there.

This strategy, effective against the spread of the virus, led to business shutdowns, economic slowdowns, the disruption of life projects and human tragedies that sparked mass demonstrations in late November.

However, Xi Jinping said on Wednesday that continuing this policy was “the right choice.”

China announced on Saturday that there have been about 60,000 Covid-related deaths since early December.

Covid-19 patients await treatment on January 5, 2023 at Fengyang Hospital in east China (AFP/Archive - Noel Celis)Covid-19 patients await treatment on January 5, 2023 at Fengyang Hospital in east China (AFP/Archive – Noel Celis)

This figure may be grossly underestimated as evidence suggests pressure from hospitals on families not to list Covid as the cause of death for their loved ones.

Airfinity estimates that more than 600,000 people have died from Covid since December 1.

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker.