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WHO Warns Of COVID Surge During Holiday Season

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WHO Warns Of COVID Surge During Holiday Season

(CTN News) – The World Health Organization warns that returning to hometowns for holidays could spread COVID-19 to old relatives.

China last month abandoned a strict anti-virus regime of mass lockdowns that sparked widespread frustration and led to historic protests during Lunar New Year.

The sudden U-turn unleashed COVID on 1.4 billion people without natural immunity since the virus first emerged in late 2019, including many elderly without full vaccinations.

Rural areas with weaker medical resources are being overwhelmed by the outbreak spreading from mega-cities.

It will be challenging to manage the virus over the holiday period, considered the world’s largest migration period.

Chinese health experts warned people to avoid sick relatives during the holidays on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.

One user suggested returning to their hometown…or putting the elderly’s health first. A user said they wouldn’t visit their grandmother and would leave presents.

“I’m afraid she’ll be lonely in the New Year,” wrote the user.

Over the 40-day Lunar New Year period, which started on Jan. 7, more than two billion passengers are expected to take trips. It is double last year’s and 70% of 2019 before Wuhan was hit by the pandemic.

Data gaps are criticised

As a result, several countries have imposed travel restrictions on Chinese travelers due to China’s lack of forthrightness about the outbreak.

There have been fewer deaths in China over the past month, despite long lines at funeral homes. On Wednesday and Tuesday, the country did not report COVID fatalities.

COVID expert Liang Wannian told reporters that accurate death counts could only be conducted after the pandemic.

China has reported just over 5,000 COVID-related deaths since the pandemic began, a fraction of what other countries have reported as restrictions have been removed.

In spite of the death toll, investors are betting that China’s reopening will boost its $17 trillion economy.

A seven-month peak in Asian stocks, a strengthening of China’s yuan and a lift in global oil prices have followed.

Challenges

Three years after being isolated from the outside world, China on Sunday dropped quarantine mandates for inbound visitors.

Over a dozen countries have ordered negative COVID test results for people arriving from China due to China’s outbreak.

In South Korea and Japan, flights are also limited and passengers who test positive are quarantined.

South Korean and Japanese transit visa exemptions have been suspended as a consequence of a deepening spat between regional rivals.

Beijing lifted travel curbs, but outbound flight bookings from the country were only 15% of pre-pandemic levels in the week after it reopened its borders.

According to Forward Keys Vice President Insights Olivier Ponti, low airline capacity, high airfares and COVID-19 testing requirements by many countries pose challenges to the industry’s recovery.

On Thursday, Hong Kong Airlines said it would not return to capacity until mid-2024.

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