China braces for COVID-19 surge amidst holiday rush

China braces for holiday COVID-19 surge as many travels for the Lunar New Year holidays, also known as the Spring Festival.

According to Reuters witnesses, Beijing’s main rail station has been packed with passengers leaving the capital in recent days.

Meanwhile, daily arrivals in Macau’s gambling mecca surpassed 55,000 on Saturday, marking the highest daily arrivals since the pandemic began.

The Hong Kong government has stated that the number of people who can pass through designated land border control points to the mainland will be increased to 65,000 per day from 50,000 between January 18 and January 21. China’s transport ministry said that more than 2 billion trips are expected in the weeks surrounding the holidays.

After three years of suffocating anti-virus controls, China abruptly abandoned its “zero COVID” policy in early December, allowing the virus to spread freely throughout its 1.4 billion population.

Authorities announced on Saturday that nearly 60,000 people infected with COVID-19 died in hospitals between December 8 and January 12, a significant increase from previous figures that were criticized by the World Health Organization for failing to reflect the scope and severity of the outbreak.

According to one health expert, even those figures likely exclude many people dying at home, particularly in rural areas with weaker medical systems. Several experts predict that more than one million Chinese people will die from the disease this year.

“The peak of COVID infection in our village has passed, but the Spring Festival is approaching and there are still left-behind villagers, especially the elderly, at risk of secondary infection,” a doctor in Shaanxi province said in an article by a regional news outlet Red Star News.

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