China says COVID outbreak easing on eve of travel rush
China said the worst is over in its battle against COVID-19 ahead of what is expected to be the busiest day of travel in years on Friday, a day ahead of the Lunar New Year's Eve, when people are supposed to be reunited with families for the most important Chinese festival.
Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, who oversees China's virus response, said that the outbreak was at a "relatively low" level, state media reported late on Thursday, after health officials said the number of COVID patients in clinics, emergency rooms and with critical conditions had peaked.
"Recently, the overall pandemic in the country is at a relatively low level," Sun said in comments reported by the state-run Xinhua news agency. "The number of critical patients at hospitals is decreasing steadily, though the rescue mission is still heavy."
Her comments came on the eve of what is expected to be the busiest day of travel across China since the pandemic erupted in late 2019, as millions of city-dwellers travel to their hometowns for the Spring Festival holiday that officially begins on Saturday.
In a news conference on Thursday, health officials said the number of COVID patients reported to hospitals had peaked with more than 40 percent fewer people being treated with critical conditions on January 17 compared with a peak on January 5.
China said last Saturday that nearly 60,000 people with COVID had died in hospitals between December 8 and January 12.