(CTN NEWS) – Despite a new wave of COVID-19 infections, China moved another step towards loosening pandemic-related restrictions on Saturday, when Hong Kong’s leader announced it would aim to reopen its borders with the mainland by mid-January.
After returning from Beijing, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee stated that the government would work with the government of neighboring Shenzhen to control the flow of people.
And attempt to “gradually, orderly, and fully” reopen all entrance points between the two sides.
— Golover (@Golover_Tu) December 24, 2022
At the moment, only the airport of Hong Kong and two checkpoints—Shenzhen Bay or the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge—allow people who want to reach the mainland through the city.
Also required before they are allowed to roam freely is a hotel quarantine for visitors visiting the mainland.
Early in 2020, when COVID first emerged, Beijing and Hong Kong closed their borders. Since then, they have stayed closed due to China’s tight “zero-COVID” policy, which caps foreign travel.
China’s domestic zero-COVID limits were lifted by Beijing earlier this month, including the removal of testing requirements and travel limitations.
Although the softening has been warmly received by many, families and the healthcare system were not ready for the ensuing spike in illnesses.
Authorities are racing to create clinics, hospitals are battling for beds and blood, and pharmacies are battling for medications.
Christmas with COVID
Authorities in Shanghai recommended citizens spend this weekend at home to stop the spread of the illness ahead of Christmas.
Although the holiday is not typically observed in China, young couples and certain families frequently gather together to celebrate it.
Despite the cautions, a yearly Christmas market conducted near the commercial district of the Bund was crowded with visitors.
Liu Yang, a 23-year-old IT professional in the market said, “My pals are generally all upbeat and have basically recovered.”
“We came here because we wanted to make the most of Christmas and the fact that it was the weekend, and we wanted to stroll around and enjoy the weather.”
Even so, Omicron’s spread dampens the holiday spirit for other shops and restaurants.
According to Jacqueline Mocatta, a worker in the hospitality sector, several Shanghai restaurants have canceled Christmas parties that were typically hosted for regulars.
While hotels have limited reservations due to personnel shortages.
“Given our staffing levels and the fact that the bulk of our team members is currently ill, there is a limit to the number of consumers we can take,” she explained.
SUSPICIOUSNESS OF OFFICIAL DATA
According to British health data company Airfinity, estimates of infection rates in China are likely more than a million per day and over 5,000 per day for mortality. The figures are in “stark contrast” to official data.
According to a report from Bloomberg News on Friday.
According to estimations from the highest health authority inside the federal government, as many as 37 million people may have contracted COVID on a single day this past week.
The authorities did not address the report.
On Saturday, a local media site said that the emergency hotline in Taiyuan, in the northern province of Shanxi, received more than 4,000 calls daily.
Authorities in Taiyuan advised locals to use the hotline solely in medical crises and noted that advice regarding COVID “does not fit within the scope of the hotline.”
A senior health official in the Chinese city of Qingdao has said that up to half a million people there are being infected with Covid-19 every day https://t.co/JqXKpC9Jlp
— TheJournal.ie (@thejournal_ie) December 24, 2022
According to a Qingdao health official, the port city sees almost 500,000 infections every day, according to news reports on Friday.
Daily infections in Dongguan, a major manufacturing hub in the south, are estimated to be between 250.000 and 300,000.
Due to a shortage of donors, the spike has put pressure on the medical community, particularly blood banks, whose supplies are running low.
According to a statement released by China’s National Health Commission on Saturday, people who experienced moderate or typical COVID-19 symptoms can safely donate blood a few days after their symptoms go away.
The media reported on Friday that the regional blood repository in Wuhan, the central city where COVID first surfaced three years ago, had just 4,000 units, or enough to survive two days.
People were urged to “roll up their sleeves and donate blood,” according to the repository.
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