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China retaliates by suspending visas to Japan, S Korea; claims country is past Covid peak; experts say worst yet to come

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(, Jan10’23) – China has suspended the issuance of short-term visas by its consulates in South Korea and Japan for visits, business, tourism, medical care, transit and personal matter in retaliation for these countries’ imposition of test requirements on arrivals from the country, calling them unjustified. It has also claimed that the Covid-19 wave was past its peak in many parts of China while the pandemic was all along under control with relatively few severe cases and very few deaths. Unofficial reports, however, continue to speak of and cite evidences of overwhelmed hospitals, funeral parlours, and crematoriums, including reports of the deaths of numerous high-profile figures alone.

The virus has been known to be spreading freely in China since a policy U-turn in early December. Nearly 90 million people had already been infected in Henan province, a summary by Health Times, a publication managed by the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper, on Jan 10, echoing a similar claimed made by China’s National Health Commission on Jan 8.

At the same time, further downplaying the severity of the outbreak despite international concerns about its scale and impact, the report said infections have been declining in the capital Beijing and several Chinese provinces, noted the Jan 10.

International health experts predict at least one million Covid-19-related deaths in China this year, said the report.

* * *

Taiwanese health experts have challenged China’s claim that Covid cases had peaked in small and medium sized cities around China, in particular a Henan Province official’s assertion that 90% of the population in the province were confirmed to be infected or had survived it.

“It is impossible for the virus to develop like this. The real hell has yet to come,” Jan 10 quoted Shieh Chi-chang, Professor at National Cheng Kung University’s Institute of Clinical Medicine, as saying. In his view, Covid in China would peak sometime in April and slowly descend in the second half of the year.

Besides, Tan Che Kim, an ICU physician at Chi Mei Medical Center in Tainan, was incredulous, saying “90% is a figure randomly offered by a local official.” Comparing transmission rates to that of Europe as an example, he has noted that after three years of the virus spreading, the current infection rate of the national population of each country was about 50% to 60%, while that of Taiwan was 38%, and Singapore 37%.

It is clear that China is eager to move beyond Covid as quickly as possible. However, the reality of the situation may be the worst is yet to come and the pandemic may continue to affect daily life in China throughout the year, the report said.

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The World Health Organization as well as several other nations have accused China of “under-representing” the severity of its Covid-19 outbreak with regards to hospital admissions, deaths, and intensive care unit admissions, noted the Jan 9. The report said five news reports expose China’s efforts at hiding the real impact of the Covid surge:

Reports on public obituaries that make it difficult for Beijing to hide the death toll. They included obituaries published by Chinese research institutions and scientific organizations of famous doctors, scientists and engineers. It included a report by the which cited the Chinese Academy of Engineering as reporting “that 20 members have died in less than a month, compared with an average annual death rate of 16.” Other obituaries included those on celebrities such as singers, actors, artists, and others.

Reports have cited Kan Quancheng, director of the health commission for central Henan province, as saying that almost 90% of people in China’s third most populous province of Henan had now been infected with Covid-19. Official data was stated to have shown last week that just 120,000 people had been infected and 30 had died since China relaxed Covid curbs in early December.

Reports says Chinese doctors had been told to avoid listing Covid as the cause of death. The New York Time has reported that Chinese doctors have been asked to avoid listing Covid-19 as a cause of death, while similar warnings have been circulated on Chinese social media. Doctors at a private hospital in Beijing were cited as having found a typed note on a hospital desk in recent days, saying “try not to write respiratory failure caused by Covid” as the primary cause of death.”

Skyrocketed demand for Indian generic drugs due to severe shortage of Pfizer’s Covid-19 drug Paxlovid.

Overwhelmed hospitals and funeral homes working overtime. Reports, including the New York Times, were stated to speak about overwhelmed hospitals, with their walkways and aisles filled with patients lying on damp floors, and about funeral homes working overtime. Car parks around the Dongjiao funeral home, one of the biggest in Chengdu, were state to be full, with funeral processions being constant as smoke billowed from the crematorium. “We have to do this about 200 times a day now,” then report has quoted one funerals worker as saying. “We are so busy we don’t even have time to eat. This has been the case since the opening up. Before it was around 30-50 a day.” At another Chengdu crematorium, privately-owned Nanling, a worker has said, “Cremation slots are all fully booked for the next few weeks.


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