Region of Concern: China
Written By Cayla Lee; Edited by Laila Bayoumi
Date: December 18, 2022
Event: On December 18, 2022, China’s chief epidemiologist, Wu Zunyou, said that the country’s urban centers are experiencing the first of three expected new waves of COVID-19 surges. The upcoming Lunar New Year holiday is expected to bring further waves as people traditionally return home. The government stopped reporting COVID deaths after lifting its “zero-COVID” policy on December 7, a move that followed after unprecedented protests. Service providers, from catering to postal, have already been affected by the Omicron variant. Funeral homes and crematoriums are also struggling to meet demands as deaths continue rising amid shortages of workers and drivers.
Significance: It is almost certain that transportation services, especially airports and trains, will experience an influx of travelers during the holiday season, which will concentrate thousands of people in one area. It is very likely that COVID-19 infections will spread among domestic and foreign travelers, which will very likely increase the spread of COVID-19 within China and other countries. High rates of infection will very likely increase risk for the virus to mutate into new variant strains. The introduction of new variations will likely further strain health officials’ efforts at containing the spread. The Chinese government will likely consider new measures to help minimize the spread, which will likely raise doubt among citizens due to underlying distrust of the “zero-COVID” policy.
Recommendations: The Chinese government should issue travel advisories for people whose health is at higher risk of infection and for those who are not adequately vaccinated. The Ministry of Health should devise a new plan that will assist with administering vaccine doses to the population at a faster rate, prioritizing higher-risk individuals such as the elderly. Health authorities should advise hospitals and clinics to prepare for an influx of patients after the holiday season by providing funds to hire additional doctors and nurses, clearing space for beds, and discharging non-urgent patients. They should also assure that personal protective equipment and sanitation supplies remain stocked and accessible at various points throughout the country, especially at transportation hubs where people will be especially concentrated. The Ministry of Finance should also prepare for a slowed economy as employees experiencing sickness will disrupt normal business operations. They should devise a plan to financially assist businesses and people as many will likely become unemployed.
 Streets Deserted in China's Cities as New COVID Surge Looms, Voice of America, December 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/streets-deserted-in-china-s-cities-as-new-covid-surge-looms/6881420.html