Chinese fret over elderly as WHO warns of holiday COVID surge

  • Two billion visits await the New Year
  • The virus spreads from the big cities to vulnerable villages
  • WHO said China’s response was challenged by a lack of data
  • The great opening of China was abused by Japan, and Korea was spat upon

BEIJING, Jan 12 (Reuters) – Chinese citizens on Thursday worried about the spread of COVID-19 to elderly relatives as they plan to return to their hometowns for the holidays as warned by the World Health Organization was outraged.

The New Year’s holiday, which begins on January 21, comes after China last month abandoned an anti-virus measure of mass lockdown that sparked outrage and included protests in before.

That U-turn unleashed COVID on a population of 1.4 billion with no natural immunity, who have been protected from the virus since it first erupted in late 2019, and many old man who hasn’t really been shot yet.

The spread from China’s cities to the countryside and poor medical resources are straining some hospitals and crematoriums.

Due to the lack of official data from China, the WHO on Wednesday said that it will be difficult to control the virus during the holiday period which is considered the largest migration of people in the world.

More warnings from Chinese health experts for people to avoid elderly relatives during the holiday pushed it to the top of the list on China’s Twitter-like Weibo on Thursday.

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“This is a very sensible idea, come back to the city … or put the health of the elderly first,” wrote one user. Another user said they didn’t have the courage to visit their grandmother and leave a gift for her at the door.

“It’s almost New Years and I’m afraid he’s going to be lonely,” the user wrote.

More than two billion trips are expected across China during the general New Year period, which began on Jan. 7 and will run for 40 days, according to the transportation agency. Last year’s visits doubled and 70% of those found in 2019 were before the outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

“I stay at home and avoid going to crowded places,” said Chen, a 27-year-old filmmaker in Beijing who plans to visit his hometown in the province. east of Zhejiang.

Chen said he would wash his hands before meeting older relatives, such as his grandmother, who had managed to avoid the disease.


The WHO and other governments have criticized China for failing to accurately report the extent and severity of the outbreak, which has led many countries to ban Chinese travelers.

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China’s death toll has been five or fewer in the past month, which in many years has not seen the long lines seen at funeral homes. The country did not report any COVID death data on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Liang Wannian, the head of the COVID expert group under the national health authority, told reporters that the deaths can be accurately counted after the end of the epidemic.

While global health experts have predicted more than a million COVID-related deaths this year, China has reported more than 5,000 since the start of the epidemic, a fraction of the other countries reported when they removed the restrictions.

Looking beyond the dead, investors are saying China’s opening up will revive the $17 trillion economy, which has suffered slow growth in nearly half a century.

That lifted Asian stocks to a seven-month high, strengthened China’s yuan against the US dollar and bolstered global oil prices on expectations of fresh demand from the major exporter. of the world.

China’s growth is likely to return to 4.9% in 2023, according to a Reuters poll of economies released on Thursday. Real GDP grew 2.8% in 2022 as lockdowns weighed on jobs and confidence, according to the poll, which is faster than 8.4% growth in 2021.


After three years of isolation from the outside world, China on Tuesday introduced quarantine orders for incoming visitors in a move it hopes will reignite outbound travel. .

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But concerns about the outbreak in China have prompted more than a dozen countries to request negative COVID test results from people who arrived in China.

Among them, South Korea and Japan have limited flights and required tests on arrival, with passengers showing that they are being quarantined.

As the dispute between the regional rivals deepens, China has stopped issuing temporary visas and banned transit visa exemptions for South Korean and Japanese nationals.

Despite Beijing lifting travel restrictions, flight bookings from China remain at just 15% of pre-pandemic levels a week after the country announced it would reopen its borders, travel data company ForwardKeys said Thursday.

Limited airline capacity, high fares, new pre-flight COVID-19 testing requirements from many countries, and return visa and visa applications are a challenge when looking at the industry is recovering, ForwardKeys Vice President Insights Olivier Ponti said in a statement.

Hong Kong Airlines said Thursday it will not return to full capacity until mid-2024.

Bernard Orr, Liz Lee, Eduardo Baptista and Jing Wang talk in Beijing; Written by John Geddie; Edited by Lincoln Feast and Nick Macfie

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters’ Guardian Principles.


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