According to a leading scientist, the Lunar New Year travel rush is unlikely to lead to an increase in COVID cases because most people have already been infected.
The possibility of a large-scale COVID-19 rebound in China in the coming months is low as 80% of the country’s population has been infected, a top government scientist has said.
Wu Zunyou, the chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Saturday that the massive movement of people during the ongoing Lunar New Year holiday period could spread the pandemic, increasing infections in some areas. , but that a second wave of COVID is unlikely in the next two to three months.
Indeed, the continuing wave of the epidemic – mainly fueled by multiple sub-branches of the Omicron strain – “has already infected 80% of the population”, he said on social media platform Weibo.
Wu’s statement came as hundreds of millions of Chinese traveled across the country for holiday gatherings that had been suspended due to recently eased COVID-19 restrictions.
With some five billion passenger journeys expected, fears have grown of new outbreaks in rural areas which are less equipped to handle large numbers of infections.
But the government moved to allay concerns, with the National Health Commission saying on Thursday that China had passed the peak of COVID-19 patients in fever clinics, emergency rooms and in critical conditions. .
Nearly 60,000 people with COVID-19 had died in hospital as of January 12, according to government data, about a month after China abruptly dismantled its zero COVID policy.
But some experts said that figure likely significantly underestimates the total effect because it excludes those who die at home and because many doctors said they were discouraged from citing COVID-19 as the cause of death. .