The World Today for January 16, 2023


The Forever Pandemic


China recently lifted mandatory quarantining for visitors, ending three years of travel restrictions designed to prevent Covid infections. The move was the latest easing of anti-Covid measures in the country, which was rocked last month by protests against lockdowns, as the Council on Foreign Relations explained.

Abandoning China’s previous “zero Covid” policy has had repercussions, however. Covid infections have skyrocketed as the virus has torn through communities where many folks had not been exposed.

China’s decision to use only domestically produced vaccines has worsened their plight because they are viewed – somewhat incorrectly – by some Chinese as less effective than their Western counterparts, CNBC wrote. Chinese citizens have been taking advantage of lifted restrictions on traveling abroad to receive mRNA vaccines, like those administered in the US and elsewhere around the world.

Researchers estimated that as many as 80 percent of the residents of large cities like Shanghai have had the virus, noted Nikkei Asia, prompting the creation of a new term, “yangguole,” or Chinese for “having had COVID.”

Analysts further predict that, while the number of infections might have peaked in early to mid-January, more suffering was likely ahead. “We may still be seeing more hospitalizations in the coming weeks and more severe cases and unfortunately, more deaths, even if the infections have already peaked,” said Benjamin Cowling, an epidemiologist and medical statistician at the University of Hong Kong.

The problem is, Chinese hospitals are already full, as the photographs for a New York Times story illustrated. So are morgues. Satellites have taken images of backed-up traffic at crematoriums and funeral homes, according to CNN, adding that overworked medical staff were using “makeshift facilities” to process crates containing bodies. Families typically must wait days before they can claim their loved ones’ remains. That pace has been going on for weeks, Reuters reported.

The situation worries officials in other nations who fear that China’s new policies might facilitate the spread of Covid, Politico wrote. The World Health Organization, furthermore, has charged Chinese officials with understating the full scope of the deaths that have resulted from the virus running rampant, the Guardian reported.

On Saturday, China revised its official death toll from the latest outbreak of the coronavirus to nearly 60,000 deaths since December, up from 37, the Washington Post reported.

Meanwhile, Japan and South Korea, for example, have placed restrictions on Chinese travelers from entering their countries, prompting China to stop issuing short-term visas to the Japanese and South Koreans, added the BBC.

Everyone is also worried, of course, about the global effects of widespread suffering, labor shortages and productivity declines in the world’s most populous country and its second-largest economy, National Public Radio declared.

That includes the Chinese, to be sure.

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