China is facing a “thermonuclear” Covid outbreak says one expert, as hospitals and crematoriums start to overflow.
According to one estimate, the ending of country’s harsh lockdown could see Covid spread rapidly until there are 800 million cases in 90 days after the Zero Covid policy of harsh lockdowns was ditched.
Video has emerged showing patients rammed into a hospital sleeping on floors and bodies stored in corridors, in a chilling echo of the when Covid first hit China
Crematoriums working through the night in Wuhan were an early indication of devastation wrought by the pandemic back in 2020.
One of those who shared footage is epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding who said the situation was now “thermonuclear bad”.
Dr Feigl-Ding is chief of the Covid Task Force at the New England Complex Systems Institute and one of the first scientists to warn about the ability of Covid to spread, when he worked at Harvard.
He pointed to predictions by China’s own health officials that 60 per cent of China’s 1.4 billion population could become infected.
The figure was reported by Xi Chen, a global health researcher at Yale University, who told NPR he was given it by the deputy head of China’s Centre for Disease Control.
Epidemiologist Ben Cowling, from the University of Hong Kong agrees with the prediction.
“This surge is going to come very fast, unfortunately. That’s the worst thing,” he said.
“If it was slower, China would have time to prepare. But this is so fast. In Beijing, there’s already a load of cases and [in] other major cities because it’s spreading so fast.”
Other experts are predicting 2.1million could die in the coming months, though official statistics show there are just 7,000 new cases a day.
But even accounts in tightly controlled official media are now saying 50,000 people reporting symptoms in one city, Guangzhou, alone.
In Beijing, the authorities have increased the number of so-called ‘fever clinics’ from 94 to 1,263 to cope with the surge in patients.
The R number, which indicates the transmissibility of the virus is currently a massive 16, scientists at the China National Health Commission estimate.
That means an each person infected will spread the disease on to about 16 others.
Last winter, cases doubled in the US every three days or so but but Cowling is warning that’s now happening in “hours” in China.
“Even if you manage to slow it down a bit, it’s still going to be doubling very, very quickly, he said.
“And so the hospitals are going to come under pressure possibly by the end of this month.”
Xi Jinping finally abandoned his disastrous Zero Covid policy earlier this month in the face of protests at harsh restrictions.
But the lack of a vaccine the harsh lockdowns were meant to get around means there is a catastrophic lack of immunity in the 1.4 billion population.
There is already grim evidence that Covid is beginning to take its toll.
On Saturday afternoon, about 30 stationary hearses stopped in the driveway leading to the Dongjiao funeral home, a Covid-designated crematorium in Beijing, Reuters reports.
Parked among them were an ambulance and a van with a sheet-wrapped corpse in the open boot.
The body was later picked up by workers in hazmat suits and moved to a preparatory room to await cremation.
Three of the numerous chimneys billowed smoked continuously.
A few yards away from the crematorium, in a funeral parlour, about 20 yellow body bags containing corpses were on the floor.
The draconian Zero Covid policy saw the population forced to take continual tests for Coronavirus and millions put into lockdown, even if only a small number of people were testing positive.