Travelers from all over are traveling through China ahead of the Lunar New Year. Health experts are fearful that this mass travel event will lead to an even more intense Covid-19 outbreak as the nation is currently enduring a massive wave of infections and deaths.
In early December, China sporadically got rid of its zero-Covid policy after three years of strict anti-virus rules. On Saturday, authorities reported that 60,000 people with Covid in China have died between December 8th and January 12th.
The World Health Organization has criticized China’s reporting on the recent outbreak, as the numbers initially reported excluded a large population of individuals who had underlying health conditions or died at home.
Several health experts are already predicting that over 1 million people in China will die from Covid this year if the outbreak continues as it currently stands. A doctor in Shaanxi province made a statement to a regional news outlet known as Red Star News regarding the outbreak.
“The peak of Covid infection in our village has passed, but the spring festival is approaching and there are still left-behind villagers, especially elderly people, at risk of secondary infection. If the anti-viral and other drugs were more abundant, I would be more confident.”
The Lunar New Year holidays, also referred to as the spring festival, officially begins on January 21st. Local media outlets have already been reporting massive spikes in Covid-related hospitalizations and deaths, along with supply and drug shortages to combat the spread.
China’s National Health Commission has committed to equipping every village clinic with pulse oximeters, fingertip devices that have been commonly used throughout the pandemic to quickly check oxygen levels, according to reports.
Xinhua, China’s official state news agency, has reported that Shanghai, the most populous city in China, will be running temporary night trains to meet travel demand and ideally reduce crowded train cars. The government in Hong Kong has also announced they will be increasing the number of individuals who can pass through designated land-border control points from 50,000 to 65,000.
The transport ministry in China is expecting more than 2 billion trips to be made throughout the next few weeks in relation to the holiday.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.