China has announced that it is abandoning its “zero Covid” policy of lockdowns and quarantines. This decision has raised concerns about the potential strain that a surge of cases could put on the country’s overstretched healthcare system, particularly in the lead up to the Lunar New Year holiday. A top health official has predicted that the surge could infect up to 60% of China’s population, or 840 million people, many of whom will be encountering Covid for the first time. Critics have pointed out that China spent much of the past three years focusing on lockdowns instead of vaccinations and preparing the population for living with Covid.
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