- Almost 90% of people in China’s third most populous province have now been infected with Covid-19.
- Kan Quancheng, director of the health commission for central Henan province, told a press conference.
- With a population of 99.4 million, the figures suggest about 88.5 million people in Henan may now have been infected.
Visits to fever clinics peaked on 19 December, Kan said, “after which it showed a continuous downward trend”.
Dismantling Zero Covid Policy
The opening of China’s borders on Sunday was one of the last steps in the dismantling of the country’s zero-Covid regime, which began last month after historic protests and has led to a huge wave of infections. Covid cases are expected to soar further as the country celebrates lunar new year later this month, with millions set to travel from big cities to visit vulnerable older relatives in the countryside.
While Beijing’s move to drop quarantine requirements is expected to boost outbound travel, many nations are demanding negative tests from visitors from China, seeking to contain an outbreak that is overwhelming many of China’s hospitals and crematoriums. Officially, China reported just 5,272 Covid-related deaths as of 8 January, one of the lowest rates of death from the infection in the world.
Life Is Moving Forward
“Life is moving forward again!”, the official newspaper of the Communist party, the People’s Daily, wrote in an editorial on Sunday praising the government’s virus policies, which it said had moved from “preventing infection” to “preventing severe disease”. Today, the virus is weak, we are stronger.” Asian shares lifted to a five-month high on Monday as investors bet that China’s reopening would help revive the $17tn economy and bolster the outlook for global growth.
“It’s a huge relief just to be able to go back to normal … just come back to China, get off the plane, get myself a taxi and just go home,” Michael Harrold, 61, a copy editor in Beijing, told Reuters at Beijing Capital International Airport on Sunday after he arrived on a flight from Warsaw. Korean Air said earlier this month that it was halting a plan to increase flights to China due to Seoul’s cautious stance towards Chinese travelers. South Korea, like many other countries, now requires travelers from China, Macau and Hong Kong to provide negative Covid test results before departure.
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