A health worker takes a swab sample from a resident to be tested for the Covid-19 coronavirus in China this week
China has just recorded its highest number of daily infections since the pandemic began.
However, case numbers hit 31,527 on Wednesday covid The restrictions are still as strict, and a fifth of the country’s economy remains constrained.
How Covid originated in the Chinese Quarter Wuhanrising numbers have raised some concerns.
So why might cases be increasing and what does that mean for the rest of the world? Here’s what we know so far.
What is happening to China’s Covid cases?
Cities across China have seen increases in case numbers, including the capital Beijing.
Infections have reached a record high, surpassing the previous peak of 28,000 in April.
However, it is important to put this in context – China has a population of 1.4 billion.
And it is clear that many of those infected in the country during the course of the pandemic have recovered. Around 5,200 people have died from Covid since the outbreak began – meaning there are around three deaths for every million people in the country.
In the UK there were around 2,400 deaths per million, although of course several factors need to be considered when comparing countries.
Still, it’s clear that his strict crackdown has so far prevented many deaths across China.
People queue for swab tests for the Covid-19 coronavirus at a collection point in Beijing on November 23, 2022 during a lockdown
How was China’s handling of Covid?
The country has a strict zero-Covid policy, meaning it has tried to eliminate the virus completely.
It is the only major economy in the world still trying to do so, but Covid is still being detected in all 31 provinces.
Nevertheless, the government does not want to give up.
Just earlier this year, the country’s largest city, Shanghai, saw blanket lockdowns and localized lockdowns remain the order of the day.
However, China has recently eased some restrictions.
The mandatory seven-day quarantine for close contacts of Covid cases (within a government facility) was in place until a few weeks ago, when it was reduced to five days and three days at home. Secondary contacts are also no longer recorded in the country.
But the recent spike means some cities are closing again. For example, the city of Zhengzhou will go into an unofficial lockdown starting Friday.
Why is China fighting?
vaccination Acceptance remains low, particularly among those at risk. According to the BBC, only half of those over 80 have their primary immunizations.
China still refuses to import vaccinations also, although the vaccine made in China is not as effective as those used elsewhere in the world.
dr Julian Tang, a clinical virologist and honorary professor at the University of Leicester, told HuffPost UK: “Viruses spread where immunity is lacking – either through the lack of natural infection or through vaccination, even where vaccines aren’t very effective.” are.
“Furthermore, if the virus mutates fairly quickly – as Covid is doing – this natural or vaccine immunity-induced protection will gradually fade over time – as we saw at omicron.
“Finally, where the virus mutates into one [quite] Because it is a transmissible but less severe (yet more asymptomatic) form, those infected can still mingle with society and spread the virus further – as we saw with Omicron.”
This suggests that even the slight easing of restrictions within China in recent weeks may have exacerbated infections.
Should China abandon its zero-Covid policy?
president Xi Jinping has insisted strict restrictions are still needed to fully eradicate Covid – and with China under authoritarian rule, his word stands.
The spokesman for the National Health Commission recently warned “against any slacking off in epidemic prevention and control” and called for “more decisive and decisive action” to bring cases back under control.
But it is the only developed economy still pursuing this goal. Other countries like New Zealand dropped this strategy last year when it became impossible to impose strict restrictions when infections emerged.
And as University of East Anglia medical professor Paul Hunter told HuffPost UK, Covid is here to stay.
“The opening of society will always lead to a wave of infections,” he explained.
He suggested that just by opening up soon after vaccination, there would be “relatively few deaths”.
He added: “New Zealand got it right and China got it wrong.”
So despite growing fatigue in the population – especially as in Qatar World Championship proves that elsewhere Covid measures have almost entirely come to a halt – mass testing and travel restrictions continue and the economy continues to struggle.
There were also reports of essential medical assistance being delayed and emergency services such as earthquake rescue workers unable to attend to those who needed them without first taking a Covid test.
Could this have international consequences?
An increase in Covid cases is always possible, especially if parts of the world’s population are not fully vaccinated.
like dr Tang emphasized: “The virus doesn’t care about borders, politics – only about finding [or] reach vulnerable new hosts—wherever they may be.”
The World Health Organization still calls Covid an “acute global emergency”.
Great Britain is also on the verge of its first unrestricted winter since 2019.
However, it should be noted that the most vulnerable people in the UK are mostly vaccinated. Almost 94% of people over 80 in England have received at least three doses.
And the Director of Public Health Programs at UKHSA, Dr. Mary Ramsay said this week: “The continued decline in Covid cases across the country is reassuring.
“The drop in hospital admissions in over 50s is also due to so many people coming forward for their refresher.
“We urge those who have not received a refresher this fall to do so as soon as possible. Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself, your family and the NHS, especially as we head into winter.”