One of China’s leading health experts, Zhong Nanshan, expects China to return to normal after Covid-19 halfway 2023, according to AFP. After the surprise turnaround in early December from the zero-Covid policy, the country is now bracing for a dramatic upsurge in patients, both under quarantine at home and in the hospitals because the Omicron variant is highly transmissible but less mortal, he told state media on Sunday 11 December.
Top epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan told state media in an interview published Sunday that the Omicron strain of the virus prevalent in China was highly transmissible and could lead to a surge in cases.
“The (current) Omicron mutation… is very contagious… one person can transmit to 22 people,” said Zhong — a leading advisor to the government throughout the pandemic.
“Currently, the epidemic in China is… spreading rapidly, and under such circumstances, no matter how strong the prevention and control is, it will be difficult to completely cut off the transmission chain.”
The easing of China’s so-called “zero-Covid” policy followed nationwide protests against harsh virus rules that had battered the economy and confined millions to their homes.
But the country is now facing a surge of cases it is ill-prepared to handle, with millions of elderly still not fully vaccinated and underfunded hospitals lacking the capacity to take on huge numbers of patients.