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China Risks 1.6 Million Deaths If It Abandons Covid Zero Policy

China risks a “tsunami” of coronavirus infections resulting in 1.6 million deaths if the government abandons its long-held Covid Zero policy and allows the highly-infectious omicron variant to spread unchecked, according to researchers at Shanghai’s Fudan University.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Without restrictions such as the country’s mass-testing drives and strict lockdowns, the spread of omicron could lead to 112.2 million symptomatic cases, 5.1 million hospital admissions and 1.6 million deaths, with the major wave occurring between May and July, the study said.

Shanghai reported 1,487 new infections for Tuesday, down from 3,014 on Monday. No cases were found outside quarantine. Authorities have indicated they need to see three consecutive days of no community spread before they start easing curbs that have kept millions of people inside their homes for more than a month. Beijing reported 37 cases for Tuesday, down from 74 on Monday.

The research — which mirrors earlier modelingfrom Peking University — comes as World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus calls on China to rethink its zero-tolerance strategy, saying the approach no longer makes sense as the omicron variant spreads and the country’s economy suffers.

President Xi Jinping has clung to China’s tough Covid strategy, tightening pandemic restrictions in Shanghai and expanding a mass testing sweep in Beijing. Officials are chasing the elusive goal of wiping out Covid-19 cases in the community despite a growing cost to the economy and as much of the rest of the world opens up.

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