A Shanghai hospital has warned its staff to prepare for a “tragic battle” with COVID-19 as cases rise rapidly across the city. According to the hospital, they expect half of Shanghai’s 25 million residents to be infected by the end of the year as the virus is spreading virtually unchecked across China for the first time.
Following a series of recent protests, Beijing reversed its Zero Covid policy to eliminate all community transmission of the virus through mass testings, lockdowns and quarantines.
As a result China’s official death toll stands at 5,241 a tiny fraction of what most countries have faced.
On Wednesday China reported no new Covid deaths despite funeral parlour workers claiming demand has increased during the last week.
Authorities who have narrowed the criteria for Covid deaths confirmed there were 389,306 cases with symptoms.
However, some experts have argued that the official figures have become less reliable as less testing is being done across the country due to the easing of restrictions.
Posting on its official WeChat account late on Wednesday, the Shanghai Deji Hospital estimated there were around 5.43 million positive cases in the city with 12.5 million people expected to be infected by the end of the year.
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According to experts, China could face one million Covid deaths in 2023.
World Health Organization(WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he is concerned about the spike in infections and is supporting Beijing in terms of vaccinating those at highest risk.
He also told reporters that the WHO needed more information on disease severity, hospital admissions and requirements for intensive care units in order to make a full assessment.
Beijing’s sudden move away from Zero Covid has caught the Chinese health system unprepared with hospitals struggling to get hold of beds, blood and pharmacies for drugs.
Smaller cities are particularly badly affected with Tongchuan, in northwestern Shaanxi province calling for all medical workers who retired in the past five years to help with the battle against the virus.