The rest of the world: Yay, COVID is over!
China: Hold my Tsing Tao...
China faces a new Covid wave that could peak at 65 million cases a week
BEIJING — China
is bracing for a new wave of Covid
infections that could see as many as 65 million cases per week by the time the surge peaks at the end of June.
It’s a startling prediction in a country, where the pandemic originated in late 2019, that only months ago had enforced some of the harshest Covid control protocols
on the planet. Now, with the latest omicron variant, XBB
, fueling a resurgence in cases, the response from China’s government and the public is muted at best.
The surge comes about six months after the country dismantled its sprawling infrastructure
for dealing with Covid, including harsh lockdowns, mass testing, stifling quarantines and strict mask requirements.
“People feel differently about this wave,” said Qi Zhang, 30, who works at a finance company in the northern city of Tianjin. “The last time, everyone was terrified, but now they don’t think it’s a big deal,” she told NBC News on Thursday.
The new wave’s data was revealed by respiratory disease specialist Zhong Nanshan at a medical conference this week in the southern city of Guangzhou. According to state media, he told the audience that the wave that started in late April was “anticipated,” and that his modeling suggested China could be approaching 40 million infections per week. By the end of June, he said, the weekly number of infections will peak at 65 million.
The United States, by comparison, was reporting more than 5 million cases a week at its peak last January. Like the U.S., China stopped providing weekly case updates this month, making it difficult to know the true extent of the current outbreak.