Some 89 per cent of people in China's third most populous province have now been infected with Covid-19, AFP reported a top official there saying on Jan. 9.
Kan Quancheng, director of the health commission for central Henan province, told a press conference that "as of Jan. 6, 2023, the province's Covid-19 infection rate is 89.0 per cent".
This level of infection means that 88.5 million out of 99.4 million people in Henan may now have been infected.
However, visits to fever clinics peaked on Dec. 19, Kan said, "after which it showed a continuous downward trend".
But infections are expected to soar during the Chinese New Year period that starts in late January.
Millions are expected to travel from big cities to visit vulnerable older relatives in the countryside.
Official data showed 34.7 million people travelled domestically on Jan. 7.
In 2022, the figure was two-thirds this level.
Official data showed that just 120,000 people have been infected and 30 died last week since China relaxed Covid-19 curbs in early December.
But these figures are unlikely to reflect the true scale of the outbreak after Beijing in December 2022 narrowed the definition of Covid-19 deaths and made mass testing no longer compulsory.
China is battling a surge in cases after lifting years of lockdowns, quarantines, and mass testing.
Its economy has been hammered and rare nationwide protests were sparked by the restrictions, one of the strictest in the world.
But those days appear to be over.
On Sunday, Jan. 8, Beijing lifted mandatory quarantine for all international arrivals and opened its border with the semi-autonomous southern city of Hong Kong.
Top photo of Shanghai pre-Covid-19 via Unsplash