COVID-19 impact eases as cases decline

By HUANG ZHILING in Guanghan, Sichuan, ZHANG YU in Shijiazhuang, ZHU LIXIN in Hefei,ZHANG YU,ZHU LIXIN and ZOU SHUO | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-02 07:26
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A banquet for 1,260 diners seated at 126 tables is held in Shatian village, Lianshan town, Guanghan city, Sichuan province, on Monday. LIU LANYING/FOR CHINA DAILY

Spring Festival family reunions enjoyed for first time in three years

At 9 am on Monday, farmer Deng Yiqiong attended a banquet for 1,260 diners seated at 126 tables at a village center in Shatian, Sichuan province.

The 62-year-old, who farms apples, oranges, peaches and grapefruits, greeted fellow villagers and watched cooks preparing food for the feast, which began at noon.

"Each year, soon after the Spring Festival holiday, a huge banquet is held in the village. Residents attend it by purchasing coupons. This year, the banquet was held for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic," she said.

More than 1,000 people from the village, which has a population of 4,000, bought the dining coupons. They feasted on nine dishes, including double-cooked pork, fish, chicken and ribs.

Chen Can, Party secretary of Lianshan township, where Shatian is located, said, "They felt confident about attending the banquet because the long-anticipated second wave of infections failed to materialize."

According to Deng, more than 1,000 people from Shatian work as bricklayers and in clothes factories in Shanghai and in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces — only returning home for Spring Festival, one of the most important holidays for Chinese family reunions.

Mi Feng, a spokesman for the National Health Commission, or NHC, said on Monday there is currently a low level of COVID-19 transmission in China, and the epidemic in the nation is steadily declining.

Fu Wei, an official at the commission, said grassroots medical institutions in urban and rural areas ran smoothly during Spring Festival, and fever clinics remained open.

She said the number of patients at such clinics during the holiday was down by 94 percent from the peak of the most recent COVID-19 outbreak from Dec 23 to Jan 22, the first day of Spring Festival.

Patients attending outpatient and emergency departments at grassroots medical institutions totaled 2.03 million, down by about 30 percent from the level before the holiday, and a decline of 44 percent from the peak on Dec 29, Fu said.

According to a report from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of COVID-19 deaths at hospitals peaked at around 4,270 on Jan 4, before falling steadily to less than 900 on Jan 23.

"By late January, the overall epidemic had waned, easing the strain on the nation's medical systems," the report said.

There was no major resurgence of COVID-19 cases during Spring Festival, and no new viral mutations were detected, the report added.

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