Eight in 10 people in China have now been infected with Covid-19, a prominent government scientist has claimed.
Wu Zunyou, the chief epidemiologist of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Saturday – the eve of the Lunar New Year – that the present “wave of epidemic has already infected about 80% of the people” in the country of 1.4 billion people.
His claim came amid concerns the travel rush that takes place around the Lunar New Year holiday period – sometimes dubbed the ‘world’s largest human migration’ – could spread the virus to the countryside and cause a second wave of infections.
But Wu, speaking on his personal social media account, said this scenario was unlikely as so many people had already been infected.
“In the next two to three months, the possibility of a large-scale Covid-19 rebound or a second wave of infections across the country is very small,” Wu said.
China’s Ministry of Transport estimates over 2 billion passenger trips will take place during the 40-day Lunar New Year season as people across the country return to their hometowns for family reunions for the first time without domestic travel restrictions since the start of the pandemic over three years ago.
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported on Sunday that more than 26 million passenger trips were taken on the eve of Lunar New Year.
That is only half of the number of travelers from the same day in 2019, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, but 50.8% higher than 2022, it said.
More than 4.1 million people traveled by train and 756,000 people by air for holiday reunions on the day before the start of Lunar New Year, CCTV added.
The country’s road transport system registered more than 20 million passenger trips on the same day, 55.1 % higher than the number from 20 …