UPDATES WITH STATEMENT FROM CHINA'S MINISTRY OF COMMERCE
By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ISTANBUL (AA) – As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in China’s central Henan province, a leading health expert has called for patience and warned that the country’s battle against the omicron variant “is still at the toughest moment.”
China’s National Health Commission reported 190 new infections on Thursday, including 124 cases of domestic transmission, pushing the country’s overall total to 104,379, including 4,636 deaths.
Henan led the tally of local cases with 76, including 43 in the city of Anyang.
Tianjin in China’s north had 41 cases of domestic transmission, while six infections were recorded in the Xi’an, capital of the northwestern Shaanxi province.
Shanghai, a global financial hub, accounted for most of the 66 new imported COVID-19 cases recorded in China over the past day.
“The omicron variant, which spreads faster than delta, could cause a surge in hospitalizations and stretch the healthcare system,” Zhang Wenhong, a renowned infectious diseases expert in Shanghai, said on Chinese social media, Chinese daily Global Times reported.
He said patience was the best strategy for China to overcome the new wave, which has triggered lockdowns in several cities as the government tries to rein in the virus situation before next month’s Winter Olympics.
“The number of imported COVID-19 cases in Shanghai has reached a historic high. This has spurred concerns,” Zhang said.
In a study of the fresh outbreak and imported cases, Zhang and his colleagues compared clinical symptoms of patients infected with the delta and omicron variants.
“Although the more contagious omicron variant is hard to detect, its damage should not be neglected,” he warned.
- Hospitals face action for lockdown lapses
Authorities in Xi’an on Thursday ordered two local hospitals to suspend operations for three months as punishment for recent cases of negligence, Global Times reported.
They include the Xi’an Gaoxin Hospital, where a pregnant woman lost her baby because she was denied entry due to COVID-19 restrictions, a case that drew strong backlash in the country.
The second facility is the Xi’an International Medical Center Hospital.
According to the report, the hospital faced action because staff delayed treatment of a patient who had a heart attack, leading to his death.
Xi’an has been under lockdown for weeks now to curb a coronavirus surge that has seen some 2,000 infections recorded in the city of 13 million people since early last month.
- US urged to create good conditions for expansion of trade
China’s Commerce Ministry said Thursday that economic and trade teams from China and the US are “maintaining normal communication.”
“Since Phase 1 of the trade deal came into force, China has overcome multiple unfavorable impacts, including the coronavirus and global supply chain disruption,” the ministry’s spokeswoman Shu Jueteng said.
She urged Washington to “create good conditions and environment for expansion of bilateral trade cooperation.”
Beijing and Washington signed what they called Phase 1 of their bilateral trade deal under former President Donald Trump in January 2020.