China workers return to office as cities grapple with COVID | coronavirus pandemic news

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Passengers wearing masks in Beijing and Shanghai are filling subway trains as China’s two biggest cities move closer to living with COVID-19 as millions have been infected with the virus across the country.

After years of relentless anti-coronavirus restrictions, President Xi Jinping scrapped the country’s COVID-zero policy in the face of protests and a growing outbreak.

But after the initial shock of the political upheaval, and a few weeks in which people in Beijing and Shanghai stayed at home, dealing with the disease or trying to avoid it, there are signs that life is moving towards a closer return to normal. 🇧🇷

Subway trains in Beijing and Shanghai were packed to capacity on Monday, while some of the two cities’ main arteries clogged with slow-moving cars as residents commuted to work.

Beijing
Passengers ride a subway train during morning rush hour in Beijing [Josh Arslan/Reuters]

An annual Christmas market held on the Bund, a shopping area in Shanghai, was also crowded over the weekend. Crowds thronged the festive winter season at Shanghai Disneyland and Beijing’s Universal Studios on Sunday, lining up for rides in Christmas-themed costumes.

The number of trips to tourist attractions in the southern city of Guangzhou this weekend increased by 132% compared to last weekend, local newspaper The 21st Century Business Herald reported.

China is the latest major country to start treating COVID as endemic. His containment measures have slowed the $17 trillion economy to its lowest growth rate in nearly half a century, disrupting global supply chains and trade.

The economy is expected to suffer further in the short term as the wave of COVID spreads to manufacturing areas and the workforce falls ill, before rebounding next year, analysts say.

Tesla suspended production at its Shanghai factory on Saturday, in anticipation of a plan to pause most work at the factory in the last week of December. The company did not give a reason.

Despite a record rise in cases across the country, China has reported no deaths from COVID on the mainland in the six days to Sunday, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday, even as crematoria face rising demand.

China has narrowed its definition to classify deaths as COVID-related, counting only those involving pneumonia or respiratory failure caused by COVID, raising eyebrows among world health experts.

Huaian, Jiangsu Province, China
A medical worker gives instructions to a resident at a mobile fever clinic in Huaian, Jiangsu Province. [CNSPhoto via Reuters]

The country’s healthcare system is under enormous pressure, with staff being asked to work while sick and retired doctors in rural communities being rehired to help, according to state media.

The provincial government of Zhejiang, a large industrial province near Shanghai with a population of 65.4 million, said on Sunday it was battling about a million new COVID-19 infections daily, a number expected to double in coming days.

Health officials in southeastern Jiangxi province said infections would peak in early January, adding there may be other peaks as people travel next month for Lunar New Year celebrations, media reported. state-owned.

They warned that the wave of infections would last for three months and that around 80% of the province’s 45 million people could be infected.

The city of Qingdao in the eastern province of Shandong estimated that up to 530,000 residents were infected daily.

Cities across China are racing to add intensive care units and fever clinics designed to stop the spread of contagious diseases in hospitals.

Shanghai
Health workers carry a person to hospital in Shanghai [Alex Plavevski/EPA]

Beijing’s municipal government said the number of fever clinics in the city had risen from 94 to nearly 1,300, state media reported. Shanghai has 2,600 such clinics and has moved doctors from less-burdened medical departments to help.

Concerns remain about the ability of China’s less affluent cities to cope with a rise in serious infections, especially as hundreds of millions of rural migrant workers are expected to return to their families in the Lunar New Year.

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