In the massive corona wave in China, with currently an estimated one million new infections a day, the Chinese health authorities are also monitoring the possible development of new virus variants. All provinces would have to select three hospitals in three cities each, which would collect samples of 15 infections, 10 severe illnesses and all the dead every week, director of the National Health Bureau's Virus Institute Xu Wenbo said, according to state media on Friday.
After the decoding and analysis of the genomes, the study results should be reported within a week. In this way, the current omicron variants as well as "possible symptoms, transmission abilities and pathogenicity of new variants with potential biological changes" could be observed in real time, the official Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.
According to model calculations by the London-based research institute Airfinity, the current wave of infections in China will experience two peaks in January and March with possibly 3.7 million and 4.2 million cases a day, respectively. Currently, the data processor estimates the number of new infections in China at probably more than a million and the number of deaths at more than 5,000 a day, according to a release.
After almost three years of lockdowns, forced quarantines, mass testing and contact tracing, the most populous country abruptly lifted its tough zero-Covid policy on December 7th. The reason for the turnaround was that the infections with the new omicron variants were no longer as severe. But experts saw the reason above all in the fact that the strict measures could no longer be maintained in view of the explosive spread. The rigorous restrictions had also placed an increasing burden on the second largest economy.
US calls on China to be open
The USA is calling on China to be open in dealing with the massive corona wave. In a phone call with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken underlined "the need for transparency for the international community" with regard to the Covid 19 outbreak in China, according to a statement by the US State Department.
The talks came amid fears that China is downplaying the scale and severity of the outbreak. China reports only a few thousand infections a day, while foreign experts assume around a million new infections a day.
CDU politicians: Stop flight connection with China because of Corona
Because of the massive corona wave in China, the foreign policy spokesman for the Union faction, Jürgen Hardt, calls for a stop to flight connections with the People's Republic.
“The exploding Covid numbers in China caused by the Chinese government’s failed corona policy are threatening the whole world with a new wave of infections,” said the CDU MP to the editorial network Germany (RND). "We must not repeat the mistake of three years ago and should now stop all flight connections to and from China immediately."
The opposition politician added: "Only when we are sure that there is no threat of a new, dangerous mutation from China should we resume flight connections."
Since the explosive increase in corona infections and the abrupt end of the rigorous zero-tolerance strategy in China a good two weeks ago, the virus has been spreading at high speed among the billions of people. In many places, the hospitals are full. According to estimates, hundreds of thousands of deaths are to be expected.
The health policy spokesman for the Greens, Janosch Dahmen, advocated using masks more frequently with a view to China and the high level of sick leave in this country. "Not only because of the development in China, but also because of the other respiratory diseases in Germany, it is important that we use the mask indoors much more - completely independent of which rules apply," he told the RND. The legal framework allows the federal states to introduce stricter rules. “I find it very strange, not only as a politician but also as a doctor, that the almost ten million sick Germans who are still not making use of it at the moment.”
In view of the wave of infections in China, Dahmen warned: "High numbers of infections also mean more chances for the virus to mutate."