Streets deserted in China’s cities as new COVID surge looms – Reuters

by | Dec 18, 2022 | COVID-19

People take steps to protect themselves after curbs liftedSenior official predicts three waves this winterLunar New Year in January to drive further spreadBEIJING, Dec 18 (Reuters) – Streets in major Chinese cities were eerily quiet on Sunday as people stayed home to protect themselves from a surge in COVID-19 cases that has hit urban centres from north to south.China is in the first of an expected three waves of COVID cases this winter, according to the country’s chief epidemiologist, Wu Zunyou. Further waves will come as people follow the tradition of returning en masse to their home areas for the Lunar New Year holiday next month, he said.China has not reported any COVID deaths since Dec. 7, when it abruptly ended most restrictions key to a zero-COVID tolerance policy following unprecedented public protests. The strategy had been championed by President Xi Jinping.As part of the easing of the zero-COVID curbs, mass testing for the virus has ended, casting doubt on whether official case numbers can capture the full scale of the outbreak. China reported some 2,097 new symptomatic COVID infections on Dec. 17.In Beijing, the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant has already hit services from catering to parcel deliveries. Funeral homes and crematoriums across the city of 22 million are also struggling to keep up with demand amid staff shortages as workers and drivers call in sick.At Beijing’s largest funeral parlour in Babaoshan, also known for handling the bodies of top Chinese officials and leaders, several hearses a minute could be seen entering on Sunday, while the parking area for private cars was also full.”Right now it is difficult to book a hearse so many relatives transport the body with their own vehicles,” said an employee on condition of anonymity.Smoke billowed out of crematoriums, where groups of people were gathered to collect the ashes of the deceased. It was not immediately clear to what extent a rise in COVID-related deaths was responsible.Social media posts also showed empty subways in the city of Xian in China’s northwest, while in Shanghai, the country’s commercial hub, there was none of the usual bustle in the run up to the New Year.”Festive vibes are missing,” said a resident who gave her name as Alice.In Chengdu, streets were deserted but food deli …

Article Attribution | Read More at Article Source

Share This