Over 70pc of Shanghai population infected with Covid, says top doctor

SHANGHAI: A senior doctor at one of Shanghai’s major hospitals said 70 percent of the megacity’s population may have been infected with Covid-19 during China’s huge surge in cases, state media reported Tuesday.

The sharp rise in infections came after years of hardline restrictions that were abruptly relaxed last month with little warning or preparation, and quickly overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums.

Chen Erzhen, vice president of Ruijin Hospital and a member of Shanghai’s Covid expert advisory panel, estimated that most of the city’s 25 million residents may have been infected.

“Now the spread of the epidemic in Shanghai is very wide and may have reached 70% of the population, which is 20 to 30 times more than (in April and May),” he told Dajiangdong Studio, owned by the spokesperson for the Shanghai Communist Party. People’s Daily.

Shanghai has suffered a grueling two-month lockdown since April, during which more than 600,000 residents have been infected and many have been moved to mass quarantine centers.

But now the Omicron variant is running rampant across the city. In other major cities, including Beijing, Tianjin, Chongqing and Guangzhou, Chinese health officials have suggested the wave has already peaked.

In neighboring Zhejiang province, disease control authorities said on Tuesday there had been a million new infections in recent days and the province was entering a peak Covid plateau.

Chen added that his Shanghai hospital was receiving 1,600 emergency admissions daily, double the number before restrictions were lifted, with 80% of them Covid patients.

“More than 100 ambulances arrive at the hospital every day,” he said, adding that around half of the emergency admissions were vulnerable people over the age of 65.

At Tongren Hospital in downtown Shanghai, reporters on Tuesday saw patients receiving emergency medical care in front of the crowded emergency room entrance.

The hallways were overflowing with dozens of elderly patients lying in cramped beds, hooked up to intravenous drips. Some patients wore oxygen masks attached to canisters by the bed.

Chinese authorities are bracing for a wave of virus to hit China’s rural, under-resourced hinterland as millions of people prepare to travel back to their hometowns for the week-long Lunar New Year public holiday. which begins on January 21. In an interview with state broadcaster CCTV on Monday, National Health Commission (NHC) official Jiao Yahui admitted that dealing with the expected spike in rural areas would be a “huge challenge”.

“What worries us the most is that in the past three years no one has returned home for the Lunar New Year, but they can finally do so this year,” Jiao said. “As a result, there may be a surge of retaliatory urban residents into the countryside to visit relatives, so we are even more concerned about the rural epidemic.” He also acknowledged the pressure on hospital emergency departments and vowed that authorities would coordinate medical resources to ensure treatment for patients in underfunded areas.

Meanwhile, around a dozen countries have imposed Covid testing restrictions on passengers from China after Beijing announced its borders would reopen from January 8.

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