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Spread of COVID-19 epidemic in China basically ended, expert says

China Daily| Updated: 2023-02-24


Liang Wannian, head of the National Health Commission's expert panel on COVID-19 control [Photo/VCG]

The spread of the COVID-19 epidemic has basically ended in China, though it is not completely over, a senior health expert said on Thursday.

Liang Wannian, head of the National Health Commission's expert panel on COVID-19 control, said the "decisive victory" in COVID-19 epidemic control, announced at a recent meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, means that the country has withstood the impact and test of the recent outbreak, with its people achieving herd immunity.

Although COVID-19 remains an international health emergency, China has set an example of a highly populous nation successfully pulling through a pandemic, he said at a news conference.

Liang said the decisive victory is the result of the power of China's political system, as the CPC and Chinese government have always prioritized people and the saving of lives, which is the fundamental principle of the nation's epidemic response.

Moreover, the country's political system can ensure that different departments and regions can work together, with governments, enterprises and individuals assuming their responsibilities and realizing synergy, he said.

The mobilization and participation of the public have also been crucial, and the Chinese people have shown a high degree of altruism, unity and dedication in the fight against COVID, he said.

In addition, disease control, public health and medical workers have made notable contributions to winning the fight, and the country has given full play to the role of technology in its epidemic control efforts — from the research and development of vaccines, drugs and testing equipment to the use of big data and artificial intelligence in the tracing and management of close contacts, Liang said.

He added that unity, grassroots officials, traditional Chinese medicine and good communication all played major roles in securing the victory.

Yang Feng, an official with the National Administration of Disease Prevention and Control, said that with concerted efforts from the whole country, China's COVID-19 response has made a smooth transition in a relatively short time since November, with more than 200 million people receiving medical treatment and nearly 800,000 patients with severe cases receiving proper treatment.

The country's COVID-19 death rate remains the world's lowest, and there was no resurgence of cases during the Spring Festival travel rush, he added.

While the nation's epidemic situation is improving, COVID-19 is still spreading worldwide, and the virus is still mutating. Authorities should continue to implement epidemic control measures and people should safeguard themselves with good health habits to maintain the hard-won success, he added.

Chang Zhaorui, a research fellow at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said there have been seven cases of the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant reported in China since Jan 8.

While the new variant is highly transmissible and has become the dominant one in some Western countries, a major outbreak in China is unlikely, given the fact that the country has just gone through a major outbreak, she said.