China faces thermonuclear Covid outbreak as hospitals and morgues overflow

China's hospitals and morgues are overflowing after the country relaxed its harsh Covid restrictions.

One expert said the nation is facing a "thermonuclear" outbreak, with one estimate guessing there could be 800 million cases in the 90 days following the axing of the country's harsh lockdown rules.

Crematorium staff are reportedly working overtime in Wuhan, where the pandemic was originally traced to back in 2020, and patients in hospitals have been sleeping on floors and in corridors, the Sun reported.

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Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding, chief of the Covid Task Force at the New England Complex Systems Institute and one of the first scientists to warn about the spread of Covid when the disease was first detected in humans, said the situation was now "thermonuclear bad".

He also highlighted that Chinese health officials fear up to 60% of the country's 1.4bn population could contract the disease.

Epidemiologist Ben Cowling, from the University of Hong Kong, reckons the harrowing prediction is not far off the mark.

"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."

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Fearsome estimates have placed the predicted death toll of the coming months at 2.1 million – although official statistics are reporting just 7,000 new cases per day.

Chinese media are saying 50,000 people in one city alone – Guangzhou – are currently showing symptoms.

China's R number – the average number of people a person with Covid will then pass the virus to – is currently at 16, while England's current estimated R rate is 0.9 to 1.2.

Cowling added that the number of cases is doubling "in hours" in China – compared with every three days last winter in the USA.

"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."

This comes after Chinese leader Xi Jinping ditched his Zero Covid policy earlier this month after mass protests across the country placed pressure on the government.

The harsh rules meant residents were forced to take endless Covid tests and were even forced into local lockdowns should even a handful of cases be detected in a region.

Some were even dragged off to quarantine camps if they tested positive.

However, the very same strict lockdowns mean that immunity to the disease is lower.

Official statistics also suggest that vaccine uptake in China is 90% – but the government announced last month that around 30% of people over the age of 60 had not been jabbed, amounting to around 80 million people.

This figure rose to around 60% of those aged 80 or over, according to American outlet NPR.

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