#WhatTheFAQ: Are COVID cases in China rising? How is India preparing for a spike?

The state authorities in India had been ordered by the country's health ministry to speed up the genome sequencing of COVID cases
Pic: EdexLive
Pic: EdexLive

While COVID cases continue to rise in China, in the course of this winter, at least three waves of the virus are expected to spread across the nation. 

The number of fatalities has not yet been revealed by the Chinese government. However, as cases continue to rise following the lifting of restrictions earlier this month, the Chinese government has issued a warning about subsequent waves of COVID infections in the coming months.

Today’s FAQ will take a look at the situation in China and what it means for India.

What is happening in China?
Despite the easing of restrictions, Beijing and Shanghai's city streets seemed quiet over the weekend. Questions about what the government was doing besides asking people to isolate themselves at home and performing mass testing are being raised as the number of COVID cases are rising.

Furthermore, how do the cases keep rising if people's freedom of movement has been restricted for so long? Notably, China has abided by strict COVID restrictions ever since the virus first appeared.

To stop the spread of COVID, Chinese authorities have implemented lockdowns, placed travel restrictions and carried out massive testing. However, following nationwide protests against the measures by citizens, the restrictions were loosened.

What do the latest WHO reports state?
Several World Health Organization (WHO) advisors have stated that a potentially devastating wave that is yet to arrive in China makes it "too early to declare the end of the Covid-19 pandemic emergency phase." The country has reported over 16,555 new COVID cases and 31,378 deaths in 24 hours (last updated on December 20, 2022 at 09.24 pm)

Why do the experts think the country is underprepared?
Despite the official count of COVID cases being around 2,000 a day, Hongkong Post reported citing a state media report that multiple cases of the virus are being reported everywhere across the country. The national health commission announced last week that it would no longer be counting asymptomatic infections because it was "impossible" to keep track of them.

Millions of deaths are expected in the upcoming months, according to experts. Experts opine that China is underprepared because there is a shortage when it comes to strengthening elderly vaccination rate, less capacity in hospitals and so on. A nationwide reopening could result in up to 684 deaths per million people, according to projections made by professors at the University of Hong Kong. In China, where there are 1.4 million people, there would be 964,400 deaths.

How is India preparing for this?
In light of a sudden spurt in COVID cases in China, India's Health Ministry instructed the state authorities on Tuesday, December 20, to speed up genome sequencing of COVID cases. In a letter obtained by AFP (Agence France-Presse, an international news agency), the ministry stated that in order to identify new variants, it is essential to gear up for the genome sequencing of positive case samples. Using genome sequencing, COVID variants can be located and monitored.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to states and union territories that in light of the sudden increase in cases in China and some other countries, it is essential to set up whole genome sequencing of positive case samples in order to track variants through the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network.

Today, December 21, senior officials and experts will meet with the Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to discuss the COVID situation in the nation. Additionally, he will review discussions of COVID circumstances in other nations. India, which suffered greatly during the pandemic, has not yet reported a notable increase in cases.

(With inputs from ANI)

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