In news that will be music to those looking to travel to China in 2023, official data released by the Chinese government shows that the current wave of Covid in the country is coming to an end.
Since ditching its “zero Covid” policy at the back end of 2022, coronavirus cases went through the roof in China, sparking fears that the government may bring back more draconian measures.
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However, instead, they stuck to their guns, and the wave has seemingly peaked and is already petering out. In a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), data shows that severe cases of the disease are trending downwards, as are deaths.
The news will relieve officials who decided not to establish any rules for the Lunar New Year Holidays that took place last week. The holiday is one of the most celebrated events in China, with millions of families getting together across the country to bring in the new year.
There had been fears that these gatherings would only add to the worrying statistics coming out of the country over the past month.
“No Obvious Rebound”
Before the Lunar New Year Holidays, the former head of the CDC, Zeng Guang, had issued a stark warning to Chinese officials. He said that rural areas, in particular would suffer a surge in cases, with citizens from the city visiting family members in these areas.
The CDC, however, is confident that Guang’s fears haven’t been realized. A spokesperson said:
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“There has not been an obvious rebound in Covid cases during the Lunar New Year Holiday. In this time, no new variant has been discovered, and the country’s current wave is coming to an end.”
The notion of “no obvious rebound” is supported by the data, which shows that fever clinic visit rates have dipped by a massive 90% through January, while hospitalization rates are down by 85%.
An expert in infectious diseases has warned, however, that it’s too early to tell if the Lunar New Year celebrations will be despite what the CDC has said. Speaking to the BBC, HSu Li Yang said:
“We will know soon if the Lunar New Year celebrations will trigger another surge in China cases, but it is unlikely to match what was experienced in December and the earlier part of January 2023.”
Good News or Fake News?
While this news should bring joy to people in China and across the world, it’s important to stress that there are doubts about the validity of the country’s reporting on the virus.
In the middle of January, a Peking University study found that 900 million people in China had been infected with coronavirus while Chinese officials tried to downplay the situation to the rest of the world.
Around the same time as the release of this report by Peking University, the Chinese government claimed that only seven people had died from the disease since they relaxed their stringent rules in December. It turned out that this information was perhaps misleading because they had dramatically changed how they defined covid deaths.
Subsequently, the National Health Commission in China reported that the correct figure for Covid deaths in the month after the measures were relaxed was, in fact, more like 60,000.
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Therefore, it isn’t expected that nations that have introduced travel restrictions on Chinese travelers will be rushing to relax them just because the Chinese government are saying that the current wave is coming to an end. Those with travel plans to China should also remain cautious.