Dozens of hearses lined up outside a crematorium in Beijing on Wednesday, even as China reported no new deaths from COVID-19 in its growing outbreak. sparked criticism over their virus calculation as the capital braced for a surge in severe cases.
After widespread protests, the country of 1.4 billion people this month began lifting the lockdown and “no COVID” testing that has helped contain most of the virus for three years – at economic cost. economic and psychological great.
The sudden policy shift has left the country’s fragile health system unprepared, with hospitals scrambling for beds and blood, pharmacies running short of drugs and authorities racing to build clinics. especially. Experts now predict China could face more than a million Covid deaths next year.
At a crematorium in Beijing’s Tongzhou district on Wednesday, a Reuters witness saw a line of about 40 hearses waiting to enter while the parking lot was packed.
Inside, family and friends, many dressed in traditional white clothes and headscarves, gathered around about 20 coffins awaiting cremation. Staff wearing hazmat suits. Smoke rose from five of the 15 furnaces.
There was a heavy police presence outside the crematorium.
Reuters could not verify whether the deaths were caused by COVID.
China uses a narrow definition of Covid deaths, reporting no new deaths on Tuesday and even surpassing a single figure in total deaths since the pandemic began. head, now numbering 5,241 – a fraction of what much less populated countries face.
Only people who die from pneumonia and respiratory failure after contracting the virus will be classified as Covid deaths, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday.
Benjamin Mazer, assistant professor of pathology at Johns Hopkins University, said that the classification would miss “a lot of cases”, especially those vaccinated, including the Chinese shots, at least. possible death from pneumonia.
Blood clots, heart problems and sepsis – an extreme response of the body to infection – have caused countless deaths for Covid patients around the world.
“It makes no sense to adopt the March 2020 mindset when only Covid-19 pneumonia can kill you, when we know that in the post-vaccine era there are enough,” Mazer said. type of medical complication”.
The number of deaths could rise sharply in the near future, as the state-run Global Times newspaper quoted a leading Chinese respiratory expert as predicting a spike in severe cases in Beijing in the coming weeks. .
“We must act quickly and prepare fever clinics, emergency and serious treatment,” Wang Guangfa, a respiratory specialist from Peking University No. 1 Hospital, told the newspaper.
Severe cases rose 53 across China on Tuesday, compared with an increase of 23 the day before. China does not provide absolute numbers for severe cases.
Wang predicts the Covid wave will peak in late January and life could return to normal in late February or early March.
The NHC also downplayed concerns raised by the United States and some epidemiologists about the virus’ ability to mutate, saying that the likelihood of new pathogenic strains emerging is higher than low.
Paul Tambyah, President of the Asia Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infections, supports that view.
“I don’t think this is a threat to the world,” he said. “It is likely that this virus will behave like any other human virus and adapt to the environment in which it circulates by becoming more transmissible and less virulent.”
Several leading scientists and World Health Organization (WHO) advisers told Reuters a potentially devastating wave in China means it may be too early to declare an end. emergency phase of the global Covid pandemic.
The United States on Tuesday showed it was ready to assist China in its response to its outbreak, warning the uncontrolled spread in the world’s second-largest economy could hurt global growth. .
A major short-term concern for economists is the impact the spike in infections could have on factory output and logistics as workers and truck drivers fall ill.
The World Bank on Tuesday cut its growth outlook for China for this year and next, citing the abrupt easing of COVID-19 prevention measures among other factors.
Some local governments continue to relax the rules.
Employees of the Communist Party and government organizations or businesses in the southwestern city of Chongqing with mild COVID symptoms can go to work if they wear masks, China Daily reported.
Other Chinese media reported similar moves in several cities.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)
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