Some in China return to regular activity after COVID infections

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Among those who gathered to sled or ice skate on a frozen lake in the capital’s Shichahai Lake Park were optimistic about the opening, after China dropped strict “zero-COVID” measures on 7 December to adopt a strategy of living with the virus.

However, since then a wave of infections has broken out across the country, after the borders had been kept almost closed for three years amid a strict regime of lockdowns and non-stop testing.

“The epidemic… didn’t give us any opportunity to come and play,” said Yang, one of those in the park, who gave only one name.

“After the end of this lockdown we don’t have to scan the health code anymore and we don’t even have to check the travel code. So we are free now.”

Zhong, a 22-year-old college student, who was also at the lake, said he did not leave the house for two or three weeks after he was infected.

“Now I can go out and it’s a good time for the New Year holidays. I want to go to Beijing, take a look and feel the festive mood.”

Traffic is building again on the capital’s streets as people quickly return to outdoor sites, such as lakes, rivers and shopping centres. But business is still slow in some smaller, confined places like restaurants, owners said.

“Work output, life and leisure are returning to normal levels,” a man surnamed Wu told Reuters by the river in the central city of Wuhan, where the pandemic began three years ago. long ago

People who were infected were not so anxious anymore, added Wu, a tutor at a private education training center.

China’s biggest holiday, the Lunar New Year, begins on January 21 this year, when the rail network is expected to carry 5.5 million passengers, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Amid an expected surge in holiday travel, authorities at Tibet’s spectacular Potala Palace said it would reopen to visitors from January 3, after closing in August last year. another due to an outbreak of COVID-19.

Some hotels in the tourist attraction of Sanya on the southern island of Hainan are already fully booked for the Lunar New Year, the media said.

In the last days the state media sought to assure the public that the outbreak of COVID-19 was under control and had reached its peak.

More than 80% of those living in the southwestern province of Sichuan have been infected, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Saturday.

But Monday’s one new COVID death — flat from the previous day — among China’s population of 1.4 billion does not match the experience of other countries after reopening.

China’s official death toll of 5,250 since the pandemic began compares with more than a million in the United States. Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, a city of 7.4 million, has reported more than 11,000 deaths.

About 9,000 people in China are probably dying every day from COVID, Britain-based health data firm Airfinity said last week.

The cumulative deaths in China since Dec. 1 have probably reached 100,000, with infections at 18.6 million, he said.

Airfinity expects China’s COVID infections to reach their first peak on January 13, with 3.7 million infections per day.

China said it only counts deaths of COVID patients caused by pneumonia and respiratory failure as related to COVID.

The relatively low death toll is also inconsistent with the increasing demand reported by funeral parlors in several cities.

The removal of sidewalks after November’s widespread protests overwhelmed hospitals and funeral homes, with public concern sparked by scenes of people on intravenous drips by the side of the road. and hearse queues outside crematoria.

(Additional reporting by Beijing newsroom and Nori Shirouzu; Writing by Farah Master; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

By Josh Arslan and Martin Quin Pollard

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