(Minghui.org) After the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) abruptly ended the zero-Covid policy on December 7 with no warning or exit plan, the Covid cases have exploded across the country. As a result, rapid test kits and fever medicine have run out of stock; hospitals have been under enormous strain; funeral homes have run out of space to store or cremate bodies.

Reclassification of Covid

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) announced on December 26 to rename COVID-19 from “novel coronavirus pneumonia” to “novel coronavirus infection,” and downgraded the disease from Class A to Class B, which no longer requires quarantine according to China’s infectious disease management regulation.

Starting from January 8, China won’t impose any Covid quarantine rule for inbound travelers and imported goods, NHC added.

All these policy changes were implemented to follow the new direction from the top CCP leader.

Risk of New Variants

It is likely that new variants could emerge that are more infectious and fatal. “China has a population that is very large and there's limited immunity. And that seems to be the setting in which we may see an explosion of a new variant,” remarked Stuart Campbell Ray, professor of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University.

“When we've seen big waves of infection, it's often followed by new variants being generated,” he explained during an interview on December 25. Like a boxer, the virus “learns to evade the skills that you have and adapt to get around those."

Mary Gallagher, a professor at the University of Michigan, posted on Twitter on December 24. “Overcommitment to Zero Covid, which was never sustainable, failure to develop viable exit strategy when Zero Covid bought China time that other countries didn't have,” she wrote. “And now a reopening that threatens the elderly and the rural population at the worst very moment (winter and just before the Lunar New Year).”

she continued, “ It's absolutely awful when policy decisions are dictated by the need to show political loyalty. It was 100% double down on Zero Covid,” she explained. “Now it's 100% open up with little preparation. Veering between two bad policy extremes with all the predictable consequences. People will remember.”

High Infection Rates Across China

The Covid situation in Jinan City, Shandong Province, is very serious. For some hospitalized senior citizens, their family members were not allowed to visit and only paid caretakers could see the patients. According to a caretaker in one hospital, everyone there had been infected, from the patients to the doctors and nurses. One medical professional in another hospital said all of the physicians in her hospital had been infected except for her.

At a December 24 meeting organized by the Liaoning Province Covid prevention and control, mayors of 14 cities in the province provided updates on their local pandemic situations and shared what difficulties they encountered. In the capital city of Shenyang, 50% of the residents were infected, and 80% of the government employees tested positive (leaving only 12% of government employees still able to report to work). Although 70% of Shenyang’s medical professionals were infected, 65% of medical workers were still working. The number of deaths was also very high.

Tang Weiguo, founder of Shanghai Kehua Bio-Engineer, a manufacturer of Covid rapid test kits, died at 66 on December 25.

Ten Days of Waiting Time for Cremation

Reporters from the Associated Press visited five hospitals and two crematories in Hebei Province on December 24 and 25. At Baoding No. 2 Hospital, the hallway was packed with patients. A woman screamed and wailed when told her loved one had died. When one patient was carried out of an emergency vehicle into the hospital, one doctor said the hospital was out of oxygen and asked them to try other places. The family put the patient back into the emergency vehicle and left.

After an 82-year-old woman in Beijing died, her family was told they had to wait ten days before the local crematory could cremate her body. Her grandson said their family turned to a crematory in Gaobeidian City, Hebei Province, which is two hours away.

Pneumonia and Original Variant

The CCP has not officially commented on the surging cases or the overwhelmed healthcare system. According to Radio Free Asia, a netizen named Jinzehuanian posted a message about what the fever clinic she worked experienced, “We treated 29 patients in six hours, and 21 of them ended up hospitalized. Out of these 29 patients, 22 had CT scans of their lungs, which showed pneumonia co-infection, not the upper respiratory tract infection caused by the omicron variant.”

Another netizen shared what he learned from a pathologist friend, “Many original variant viruses were seen in recent infected cases. This led to big white lungs observed in some young and middle-aged people. With no nucleic acid testing results, the exact strain cannot be determined.”

China Declined Help from WHO

WHO announced recently that no new update had been received from China on its Covid and hospitalization status. The agency also offered to dispatch medical professionals to China but the CCP declined to accept.

Concerned that the surging cases in China may threaten global health, the U.S. government has repeatedly offered vaccines and other assistance to China, but the CCP turned it down as well.

In response to the surging cases in China, the South Korean government has intensified monitoring of inbound travelers from China. Anyone whose temperature exceeds 37.30C (or 99.10F) will be required to have a PCR test.