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Friday, January 27, 2023

China removes virus tracking app as country prepares for Covid-19 uptick

(CNN) — China is bracing for an unprecedented wave of Covid-19 cases as it rolls back its zero Covid policy, while a leading expert has warned that the Omicron variant is “spreading rapidly” and could rock the country’s capital. Those are signs of outbreak.

The changes continued on Monday when officials announced the disabling of the “mobile itinerary card” health tracking feature, scheduled for the next day.

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The system, which is separate from the health code scanning system still required in some places in China, used data from people’s cell phones to track their travel history over the past 14 days, identifying those who are trying to do. A city with areas designated as “high risk” by the authorities.

It has been a point of contention for many Chinese, due to concerns about data collection and its use by local governments to ban people who have entered a city deemed to be a “high-risk zone”. Even if they haven’t gone. for those areas within that city.

But as parts of the zero-Covid infrastructure are dismantled, questions are being raised about how the country’s health system would handle a large-scale outbreak.

Over the weekend, some businesses in Beijing closed and city streets were largely deserted as residents fell ill or feared contracting the virus. The largest public gatherings were observed outside pharmacies and COVID-19 testing booths.

News outlet China Youth Daily documented hours-long lines at a clinic in central Beijing on Friday, citing anonymous experts telling residents not to visit hospitals unless necessary.

Health workers in the capital were also dealing with a surge in emergency calls from many Covid-positive residents with mild or no symptoms. On Saturday, a hospital official called on residents in such cases not to call the city’s emergency services hotline, similar to 911, in a bid to keep it free for the seriously ill.

According to official media, Chen Xie, chief physician of the Beijing Emergency Center, said that the daily volume of emergency calls has increased from 5,000 to more than 30,000 in recent days.

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Covid-19 expert Zhong Nanshan said in an interview published by state media on Saturday that Covid was “spreading rapidly” in China by the highly infectious Omicron variant.

“No matter how strong the prevention and control is, it will be difficult to completely cut off the chain of infection,” Xinhua quoted Zhong as saying.

changes and concerns

The rapid rollback of testing nationwide and many people using home antigen tests has also made it difficult to gauge the extent of the spread, and official data now appears meaningless.

Authorities reported 8,626 COVID-19 cases in China on Sunday, down from the previous day’s figure of 10,597 and a high of more than 40,000 daily cases at the end of last month. CNN reports from Beijing that the number of cases in the Chinese capital could be much higher than the number recorded.

A note seen on a residential building in Beijing indicated the wider situation, saying: “Due to the serious epidemic situation in recent days, the number of staff coming to work is grossly insufficient, and the normal operation of the apartment Declined in. Very impressed and challenged.

The country is just days away from a major relaxation of its zero-COVID measures, marking a turning point for many Chinese living under tight government controls and a long-held grudge about the lethality of Covid-19 Gave air to the coming story.

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Last Wednesday, top health officials made a sweeping reversal of the mass testing, centralized quarantine and health code tracking rules they have relied on to control the viral spread. Some aspects of these measures are maintained, such as the use of health codes and central quarantine of severe cases in designated locations, as well as home isolation of cases.

Outside experts have warned that China may not be ready to handle an expected surge in cases, following the surprise move to lift its restrictions in the face of nationwide protests against the policy, rising case numbers and mounting economic costs.

While Omicron can cause relatively mild illness compared to earlier variants, even a small number of severe cases in a country of 1.4 billion people can have a significant impact on the health system.

Zhong said in interviews with state media that the government’s top priority now should be booster vaccinations, especially for the elderly and others at high risk, especially with the Lunar New Year coming up next month, a peak travel time. Where urban residents visit elderly relatives and return to their rural hometowns.

Health officials on Sunday ordered the improvement of medical capabilities in rural areas by the end of the month.

The measures to be taken include increasing ICU wards and beds, improving medical staff for intensive care and setting up more fever clinics, China’s National Health Commission said in a statement.

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Meanwhile, experts caution that a lack of experience with the virus, and years of state media coverage focusing on its dangers and impact abroad, preceded the recent change in tone to those who are not in dire straits. , may force them to seek medical attention, further overwhelming the health system.

Bob Li, a graduate student in Beijing who tested positive on Friday, said he is not afraid of the virus, but his mother, who lives in the countryside, was up all night worrying about him. “She finds the virus a very scary thing,” Lee said.

“I think most people in rural China may have some misunderstanding about the virus, which may come from the exaggeration of the state of this virus over the past two years. That’s one of the reasons people are so scared,” he said. Said, adding that he still supports the government’s careful treatment of Covid-19 during the pandemic.

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There are clear attempts to suppress public concern about COVID-19 and its side effects, such as the panic buying of drugs.

China’s market watchdog said on Friday that there were “temporary shortages” of some “best-selling” drugs and vowed to crack down on price hikes, while online retailer JD.com said last week that it would after sales Taking steps to ensure supply. There was an 18-fold increase in the number of prescription drugs that week compared to the same period in October.

A hashtag trending on China’s heavily moderated Weibo social media platform over the weekend featured an interview on state media with a Beijing doctor who said people who tested positive for Covid-19 But they had no symptoms or had mild symptoms, they did not need to be taken. healing medicine

“People with asymptomatic infection do not require any medicines. It is enough to rest at home, maintain a good mood and physical condition,” Li Tongzheng, chief physician for infectious diseases at Beijing Yu An Hospital, said in an interview linked to the hashtag, which has been viewed more than 370 million times since Friday.

CNN’s Yong Xiong, Nector Gan, Xiaofei Xu and Cheng Cheng contributed to this report.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
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