China Covid: Experts warn of ‘deaths in the millions’ as Beijing’s zero-Covid abandoned

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There are growing concerns China’s Covid crisis is secretly spiralling out of control, with an expert bracing for deaths “in the millions” in the weeks ahead.

For years on end, Chinese President Xi Jinping pursued an aggressive zero-Covid strategy which saw millions of residents locked down for extended periods of time, even after the rest of the world started to move on.

Beijing recently announced that draconian restrictions would finally begin to ease – but within days, Covid cases began to explode, with hospitals already “completely overwhelmed” and bodies reportedly piling up at morgues.

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Since relaxing restrictions, China’s public health officials have admitted it was possible that 800 million people could be struck down by Covid in the coming months.

However, the nation has officially recorded just two deaths since reopening – although there are now widespread reports that the true figure is far higher, with workers at the Beijing Dongjiao Funeral Parlour – the venue tasked with handling Covid deaths – claiming they were overwhelmed with bodies in recent days.

The claims have sparked rumours of a government cover up – and now, international experts have sounded the alarm over a tragedy in the making.

Harvard-trained US epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding recently shared a video on Twitter purportedly showing rows of seriously ill Covid patients crammed into a clearly stretched hospital – with some seen lying on the floor or slumped in chairs – warning that things were getting “thermonuclear bad”.

“Hospitals completely overwhelmed in China ever since restrictions dropped,” he posted, adding that epidemiologists estimate more than 60 per cent of China and 10 per cent of the Earth’s population is likely to be infected with the virus over the next 90 days.

“Deaths likely in the millions – plural. This is just the start,” he posted.

His claims were backed up by a recent forecast by health data analysts Airfinity, which predicted China faces between 1.3 and 2.1 million deaths between now and the end of March.

And fellow epidemiologist Ben Cowling agreed with the terrifying figures, telling NPR the surge is “going to come very fast, unfortunately”, and predicting that “hospitals are going to come under pressure possibly by the end of this month”.

Of key concern to Dr Cowling and other health experts is China’s so-called “R number”, which refers to how many people an average Covid patient infects.

For example, this time last year in NSW, when Omicron was wreaking havoc, the state’s R number was above 2. But China National Health Commission scientists estimate the R number is now 16 in China, NPR reports, indicating just how dire the current situation has become.

A second video shared by Dr Feigl-Ding allegedly showing “dead bodies piled up” on hospital gurneys also proves China’s growing disaster, with the epidemiologist claiming over a series of tweets that deaths were being “hugely under-reported” – lending weight to the claim of a government cover up.

He said there had been a “recent explosion in funeral services caused by the sharp increase in deaths”.

“Cremation in Beijing non-stop. Morgues are overloaded. Refrigerated containers needed. 24/7 funerals. 2000 bodies backlogged for cremations,” he tweeted.

‘What happens in China doesn’t stay in China’

Dr Eric Feigl-Ding went on to explain that nobody would be immune to the fallout from China’s latest crisis, predicting that the world would soon be hit by severe shortages of crucial medical supplies including antibiotics and fever medications.

He also claimed cases would spread rapidly across the planet.

“What happens in China doesn’t stay in China — Wuhan was our lesson three years ago. The global fallout of this 2022-2023 wave will not be small,” he warned, adding that he believed the “global economic fallout from China’s new mega tsunami wave will be ugly”.

Covid cover up

The epidemiologist’s grim warning comes amid growing concerns China is deliberately hiding the true death toll.

According to photos taken at the Beijing Dongjiao Funeral Parlour, and reports of international journalists on the scene, there has been a recent influx of activity at the site, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that around 200 bodies had been arriving daily recently, a huge increase from the usual average of 30 to 40 per day.

Rows of cars decorated with traditional funeral adornments have also been seen pulling up alongside the parlour.

The grim development comes hot on the heels of China’s stunning reversal of its zero-Covid policy, which was announced following a wave of protests across the nation after the deaths of at least 10 people in a fire in an apartment block was blamed on the nation’s strict Covid lockdowns.

Since then, authorities have backflipped, telling the lockdown-weary population Covid was no longer dangerous after talking up the threat posed by the virus for the entire course of the pandemic.

While a rise in the Covid death toll is expected as a nation reopens – a trend seen across the globe over the course of the pandemic – China is thought to be especially vulnerable, given the country’s low vaccination rates, especially among the elderly.

Originally published as ‘Thermonuclear bad’: Expert warns of deaths ‘in the millions’ as China’s Covid crisis explodes

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