China has been seeing a surge in COVID cases. There are a lot of reports on social media that hospitals in Beijing and other places in China are reportedly overwhelmed.
In an interaction with CNBC-TV18, Jonathan Cheng, China Chief of Bureau at The Wall Street Journal said there are more infections across China than the country has ever seen and that this rapidly spreading variant of the virus.
He added, "China officially had not reported any deaths above five days ago and up till today, they have only reported a total of seven. So whether or not that number is real or not, there's no question that a lot of people aren't getting very sick right now across China. But this is also a milder variant so not everyone is dying."
On the worst affected regions in China, Cheng said, "It really started in the north, I don't know whether that's because just the variant was spreading more easily here, because it is very cold in Beijing. So that may be the reason for it. But we are now starting to see reports that it's heading south, and you have people in Shanghai now starting to lock down."
He added, "Whereas in Beijing, actually, I described last week, you have a lot of cases, and now you are starting to see life return, you are starting to see restaurants reopen, you are starting to see cafes reopen because many people if you are younger if you are healthier if you got this omicron variant, you were knocked out for 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 days, but once you have gotten over it, you can head back out again. So I think we are starting to see some of that. But at the same time, if you are 80 and above and you haven't been vaccinated, then you are a danger of being pushed to a more serious state."
On COVID death, he said death is the only thing that really, people are watching now. China has reported only seven deaths and that is probably too low.
Cheng added, "It depends a little bit on the definition, we got a sense of that from the National Health Commission of China, which put out new guidance today that gave a sort of the criteria for defining a COVID death is quite narrow. It can't be that somebody died, and they happen to have COVID, they have to have died of COVID."
Also, China stopped reporting asymptotic cases which were part of the practice in China for the past three years. Meanwhile lot of people are testing positive at home, and these numbers are not making it into the official statistics.
Talking about measures Cheng said, "What they have done here is they have really thrown open the floodgates a little bit and said, we need to learn to live with this virus and we need to learn to do it very quickly."
"In some very specialized cases where you have localized surges in a school or in a hospital I think they may re-impose some restrictions. We did see in Shanghai earlier this week that schools were sent back online again and that's one way of ensuring that the spread at least happens at a slower rate than it might otherwise," he added.