China says tracking Covid cases is now ‘impossible’ as infections soar

BEIJING: The true scale of Covid-19 infections in China is now “impossible” to track, the country’s top health body said on Wednesday, as officials warned of a rapid spread in Beijing after the country abruptly abandoned its zero tolerance policy.
China last week eased restrictions for mass testing and quarantine after nearly three years of trying to eradicate the virus, leading to a rapid drop in officially reported infections from historic highs recorded in the month. last.
And with testing no longer needed for much of the country, China’s National Health Commission admitted on Wednesday that its numbers no longer reflect reality.
“Many asymptomatic people are no longer participating in nucleic acid testing, so it is impossible to accurately capture the true number of asymptomatic infected people,” said the NHC said in a statement.
The statement comes after the Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chunlan said the capital’s new infections were “rising rapidly”, according to a state media readout.
Chinese leaders are determined to press ahead with the opening, with tourism authorities in Beijing announcing on Tuesday that they would resume tour groups in and out of the capital.
But the country is facing a surge in cases it is ill-equipped to handle, with millions of vulnerable elderly people still not fully vaccinated and underfunded hospitals lacking the resources to deal with an expected influx of infected patients.
And as the country takes a tricky path out of its zero Covid policy to live with the virus, many people with symptoms have opted to seek treatment at home.
People in Beijing have complained about cold medicine running out and long queues at pharmacies, while Chinese search giant Baidu said searches for fever-relieving ibuprofen had increased by 430% over the past week.
Growing demand for rapid antigen tests and drugs has created a black market with astronomical prices, while buyers resort to sourcing goods from “dealers” whose contacts are circulating in WeChat groups.
Authorities are cracking down, with market regulators fining a Beijing firm 300,000 yuan ($43,000) for selling overpriced test kits, local newspaper Beijing News reported on Tuesday.
And in a sea change in a country where infection with the virus was once taboo and recovered patients faced discrimination, people are taking to social media to show off their test results and give detailed descriptions of their experiences. while being sick.
“When my body temperature exceeded 37.2 degrees, I started adding sugar and salt to my lemon water,” says Beijing. Xiaohongshu the user of the social site “Nina” wrote in an account intended to give advice to those who are not yet infected.
“I have been resurrected!!” another account owner wrote in the caption of a photo showing a row of five positive antigen tests and one negative.


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