People, wearing masks to prevent coronavirus disease (COVID-19), walk along the street in Beijing, China. (Image: Reuters)
China anticipates a peak in the Covid-19 surge with an estimated 65 million weekly infections, prompting heightened measures.
An ongoing wave of Covid-19 infections in China has forced authorities to step up vaccination programmes in order to arrest the recent spike. This spike in cases is expected to peak in June and infect as many as 65 million people a week, the Washington Post reported.
The report pointed out that the new XBB variants of Covid-19 are mutating to overcome the immunity developed after China departed its Covid Zero policy last year.
The report cited Chinese epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan who on Monday announced two new vaccinations for the XBB omicron sub variants (including XBB. 1.9.1, XBB. 1.5, and XBB. 1.16) were given preliminary approval.
Three to four other new vaccines will also soon receive approval.
When China lifted Covid Zero last winter at least 85% of the population fell sick at that time. This new wave could be the largest number of infections recorded since the lifting of the stringent measures.
However, Chinese officials claim that the current wave will be less severe. They pointed out that the elderly population is at risk and vigorous vaccination campaigns must be mounted to prevent them from getting infected.
“The number of infections will be less. The severe cases will certainly be less, and deaths will be less, but that could still be a large number. Even when we think this is a milder wave, it could still have quite a substantial health impact on the community,” an epidemiologist was quoted as saying by the Washington Post.
The Beijing Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has observed a significant increase in Covid cases, surpassing flu, making it the prevailing infectious disease during the last two weeks of April.
Amid concerns, Chinese experts told the Washington Post that reinfections will have milder symptoms and hospitals won’t be overwhelmed like they did during the previous winter.
Certain medical facilities are advising mask-wearing and avoiding crowded places for vulnerable individuals and senior citizens.
China has recorded over 99 million Covid-19 cases since the onset of the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Experts believe that the number could be much higher than this figure. Over 121,144 have died due to Covid-19 in China and experts believe that this number also is not a true reflection of Covid deaths in the country.