Beijing is reviving after lockdowns, but China is not out of the woods

Beijing is reviving after lockdowns, but China is not out of the woods
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Crowds gather to watch a band perform at Beijing’s Solana mall on Christmas Eve 2022 as the city recovers from the Covid wave.

vcg | Visual China Group | Getty Images

BEIJING – People are returning to the streets in China’s capital as they recover from a wave of Covid infections.

By Monday morning, traffic in Beijing was up nearly 90% from a week earlier — to “severely congested” levels, according to Baidu data.

Weekend Beijing sightseeing ticket bookings it has doubled compared to the previous weekThis is reported with reference to the Chinese business news site 21st Century Business Herald. CNBC could not confirm the numbers.

Anecdotally, foot traffic at weekend malls and Universal Beijing Resort’s CityWalk increased significantly to modest crowd levels. Not all stores are open yet. Christmas is not a public holiday in mainland China, but it is often celebrated by young people.

In contrast to the increase in Beijing’s urban traffic, Shanghai and Shenzhen still saw very low levels of congestion on Monday morning, according to Baidu data. After Beijing, two cities began to see a wave of Covid infections.

The resurgence of social activity in Beijing over the past few days is an example of how long it can take for the country to recover from the economic impact of zero Covid control.

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A month ago, residents of Beijing a increase in housing foreclosures and the following public protests. In early December, municipal and central authorities abruptly suspended many Covid controls against the background of increasing infections.

The city said visits to fever clinics rose 16 times in one week — to 22,000 in December. 11. After four days, the daily number rose to 73,000 visits, but not until December. On the 21st, that number dropped to 65,000 visits, according to an official report on Saturday. The city has a population of about 22 million.

The report states that the share of severe Covid cases and elderly patients has increased. Referring to the director of a local hospital, he said that the share of visits by the elderly has increased from 20% to about 50%.

China’s elderly have lower Covid vaccination rates and often have underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus. Anecdotally, deaths increased.

However, there are less and less official announcements. China’s National Health Commission on Sunday stopped sharing the diary The figures for Covid infections and deaths end a nearly three-year streak.

One of the official arguments for maintaining strict Covid control was that the already stretched national health system would cope with the surge in infections.

Covid cases are still ringing

Despite the lack of public data at the national level, Zhejiang province, which borders Shanghai, shared the most detailed official Covid figures on Sunday.

The province said daily Covid infections in the region have topped 1 million and will peak at 2 million per day around New Year’s. The province has a population of about 65.4 million, more than 70% of whom live in cities like Hangzhou, the home of Alibaba.

Zhejiang said the maximum daily capacity of fever clinics in the province is 600,000. Among the state’s larger hospitals, there are more than 12,000 intensive care beds, or 9.9% of open beds, officials said.

Traffic was very light in Hangzhou on Monday morning, according to Baidu data.

Ascending Journey

While people are staying at home in some parts of China as infections emerge, other regions outside of Beijing are seeing a resumption of social activity.

According to Baidu data, the southwestern cities of Chengdu and Chongqing have seen huge jumps in road traffic, reaching levels of congestion similar to that of Beijing.

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