Chinese state media seek to calm public opinion about COVID-19 According to Reuters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Police guard an area to avoid mass gatherings during New Year’s Eve celebrations, amid the coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID-19), in Wuhan, Hubei province, China December 31, 2022. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo
By Martin Quin Pollard
WUHAN (Reuters) – Thousands of Chinese took to the streets to celebrate the new year as authorities and state media sought to reassure the public that the COVID-19 outbreak sweeping the country was under control and nearing its end. to the climax.
Although many people in major cities continue to quarantine as the virus spreads in the community, New Year’s celebrations appear to be unaffected as people celebrate in late 2022 and into 2023.
In Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first identified in late 2019, concerns about the impact of easing strict COVID restrictions on living with the disease have now subsided. less – at least for young and healthy people.
“Basically, now my friends and I feel relatively positive and optimistic,” said a tutor surnamed Wu, 29. “Many people are going out.”
“We all know that especially for middle-aged and elderly people, especially those over 60, especially those with underlying medical conditions, they will be affected by this virus,” he said.
A long line at the emergency department of Tongji Hospital in Wuhan, the main facility for COVID-19 patients, such as 72-year-old Huang, who only wants to be identified by his surname .
“I don’t feel well. I don’t have energy. I can’t breathe. I used to be in good health. I took X-rays to check my lungs… This hospital is so troublesome, you have to. wait a minute. long time,” he said.
China’s sudden shift in COVID control measures – as well as the accuracy of data on cases and mortality – has come under increasing scrutiny both at home and abroad.
The surge in infections has raised new concerns about the health of the economy, and in his first public comments since the policy change, President Xi Jinping in his New Year’s address said: calls for greater efforts and solidarity as China enters a “new phase”.
China reported a new COVID-19 death in the mainland on December 31, the same as the day before, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Sunday.
The cumulative official death toll in China now stands at 5,249, much lower than in other major countries. The government has denied claims that it intentionally under-reported the total number of deaths.
At Hankou Funeral Home on the outskirts of Wuhan, a steady stream of mourners and hearse drivers arrived on Sunday.
Staff at the site’s heavily guarded entrance declined to answer questions about their recent workload. But funeral homes in other cities in China – including Chengdu and Beijing – say they are busier than ever since China abruptly lifted COVID restrictions last month.
China’s CDC reported 5,138 officially confirmed cases on Saturday, but because mass testing is no longer working, experts say the actual number of infections is significantly higher.
State media in the southeastern Chinese city of Guangzhou on Sunday said daily infections had recently peaked at around 60,000 and are now at around 19,000.
Authorities have been trying to reassure the public that they have the situation under control, and state news agency Xinhua published an editorial on Sunday saying the current strategy is “a viable approach.” plan, based on science” reflects the changing nature of the virus.
Xinhua said that drug production alone accelerated last month, with production of pain relievers ibuprofen and paracetamol now at 190 million tablets per day, five times higher than in early December.
It said production of antigen test kits nearly doubled to 110 million a day for a month.
On Sunday, Australia and Canada joined the United States and other countries in requiring travelers from China to provide negative COVID-19 test results upon their arrival. The country’s foreign ministry said Morocco would impose a ban on arrivals from China.
Australian Health Minister Mark Butler said additional measures would also be considered amid concerns that China is not disclosing enough information about the nature and extent of the current outbreak.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Sunday offered to provide China with “necessary assistance” to help the country deal with a surge in COVID-19 infections.