State media reported on January 3 that a top doctor at a top Shanghai hospital said 70 percent of Shanghai’s population could be infected with COVID-19 amid a surge in cases of the virus in China.
After two rounds of strict restrictions, the sudden easing of those restrictions has led to a spike in coronavirus infections. The Chinese government did little to warn or prepare for the lifting of restrictions.
Most of Shanghai’s 25 million people are likely to be infected, said Chan Aseng, vice president of Rui Hospital, a member of Shanghai’s covid-19 expert advisory board.
“Now, the spread of the epidemic in Shanghai is very widespread. The epidemic appears to have reached 70 percent of Shanghai’s population. This is 20 to 30 times higher than (April and May),” he was quoted as saying by the People’s Daily, a Chinese Communist Party newspaper.
Shanghai suffered a severe two-month lockdown starting in April, during which 600,000 residents were infected, many of whom were sent to crowded quarantine centers.
However, the Omicron strain is now spreading wildly across Shanghai, and experts predict that infections will peak in early 2023.
Beijing Tianjin, hollow Chinese health authorities said the wave of infections has reached its peak in other major cities, including Guangzhou.
Chan said his Shanghai hospital has 1,600 emergency attendees every day, 80 percent of whom are Covid patients. The number of emergency admissions has doubled since the restrictions were lifted.
“More than 100 ambulances arrive at the hospital every day,” he said, according to the People’s Daily newspaper, adding that almost all of the emergency arrivals are people over 65 years old.
AFP reporters saw patients receiving emergency treatment outside the entrance of the overcrowded hospital at Dunyan Hospital in downtown Shanghai on January 3.
As Chinese people prepare to return home for the New Year, which begins on January 21, Chinese officials fear the virus will reach rural areas of China.