Thousands of Chinese took to the streets to mark the New Year as authorities and state media sought to reassure the public that the COVID-19 outbreak sweeping across the country was under control and nearing its peak.
Though many people in major cities have continued to isolate as the virus spreads through the population, New Year revelries appeared to be mostly unaffected as people celebrated the end of 2022 and the turn into 2023.
In Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first identified at the end of 2019, residents said anxieties about the impact of easing strict zero-COVID restrictions to live with the disease had now abated – at least for the young and healthy.
A long line of people queued at the emergency department of Wuhan’s Tongji Hospital, a major facility for COVID-19 patients, such as 72-year-old resident Huang, who wanted to be identified by her surname only.
“I don’t feel well. I have no energy. I can’t breathe. I used to be in good health. I had X-rays to check my lungs… This hospital is a lot of trouble, you have to wait a long time,” she said.
DATA UNDER SCRUTINY
China’s abrupt U-turn on COVID controls – as well as the accuracy of its case and mortality data – have come under increasing scrutiny both at home and overseas.
The surge in cases has raised fresh worries about the health of the economy and in his first public comments since the change in policy, President Xi Jinping called in a New Year’s address for more effort and unity as China enters a “new phase”.
China reported one new COVID-19 death in the mainland for Dec. 31, the same as a day earlier, the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said on Sunday.
The accumulated official death toll in China now stands at 5,249, far lower than in other large countries. The government has rejected claims that it has deliberately underreported the total number of fatalities.
Source: Tap News Agency