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China says Covid outbreak has infected 80% of population

Pedestrians in the Lujiazui financial district in Pudong in Shanghai, China on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The possibility of a big Covid-19 rebound in China in the next two or three months is remote as 80% of people have been infected, a leading government scientist said on Saturday.

The massive movement of people during the ongoing Lunar New Year holiday period may spread the pandemic, increasing infections in some areas, but a second wave of Covid is unlikely in the short term, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the China Center disease control and prevention, said on social media platform Weibo.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese are traveling across the country for holiday gatherings that had been suspended due to recently eased Covid restrictions, raising fears of new outbreaks in rural areas less equipped to handle large outbreaks.

China has passed the peak of Covid patients in fever clinics, emergency rooms and in critical conditions, a National Health Commission official said on Thursday.

Nearly 60,000 people with Covid had died in hospital by January 12, about a month after China abruptly dismantled its zero-Covid policy, government data shows.

But some experts said that figure likely significantly underestimates the total impact, because it excludes those who die at home, and because many doctors said they were discouraged from citing Covid as the cause of death.

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