China is currently experiencing its biggest outbreak of COVID-19 since March of 2020 when the virus first broke out in Wuhan. On Saturday, China reported its first deaths from the virus in over a year. In a desperate scramble to contain the virus, much of the country has been shut down, but will it be enough to slow the spread?
What We Know
The outbreak of COVID-19 in China has spread to two-thirds of its providences and more than 25,000 new cases have been reported in recent weeks. The majority of these cases were a new sub-variant of the Omicron strain, known as BA.2. The two most recent deaths were reported from the northeastern province of Jilin, an area where many of the reported cases have originated in recent weeks. Jilin’s 24 million residents are currently banned from leaving their providence or traveling between cities due to a large number of cases. Until Saturday there had not been a recorded death as a result of COVID-19 in China since Jan. 2021. However, experts speculate this to be untrue and suspect that there were, in fact, a number of deaths that went unreported.
In the past, there has been speculation that Chinese officials were concealing the true number of positive cases and deaths in the country to make it appear as if they had a better grip on containing the virus than they did. However, from the beginning, they have imposed some of the strictest guidelines and regulations in their efforts to contain the spread. Experts suggest this recent outbreak is likely due to the fact that much of the older population in China is not vaccinated, residents living in more rural areas only receive basic medical care and their hospitals could be easily overrun by a large COVID outbreak.
As of this weekend, Chinese officials have imposed new guidelines for residents that test positive for COVID-19. Now, those who test positive with mild symptoms do not have to be hospitalized but will be required to isolate in various facilities across the country.
With the rest of the world moving towards a new future without COVID-19, it feels as if China is falling behind. However, it is hard to tell if the rest of the world will soon experience a mass outbreak as well with the new sub-variant of Omicron beginning to spread.