World

Second virus wave looming for China: Expert

This article is more than 12 months old

BEIJING: China faces a potential second wave of infections due to a lack of immunity among its population, its government's senior medical adviser has warned.

After months of lockdowns and curbs on travel, China has largely brought the virus under control, but fears of a second wave have risen as clusters have emerged in north-east provinces and the central city of Wuhan.

"The majority of... Chinese at the moment are still susceptible to the Covid-19 infection, because (of) a lack of immunity," Dr Zhong Nanshan, the public face of the government's response to the pandemic, said.

"We are facing (a) big challenge," he added. "It is not better than the foreign countries, I think, at the moment."

Dr Zhong, who helped expose the scale of the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, also said the authorities in ground-zero Wuhan had under-reported cases during the early days of the pandemic.

"The local authorities, they didn't like to tell the truth at that time," said Dr Zhong, who was part of a team of experts sent to Wuhan to investigate the outbreak.

"I didn't believe that result (the number of cases reported) so I (kept) asking and then, you have to give me the real number," he said.

Dr Zhong cautioned that a "perfect" vaccine for a disease that the World Health Organisation says may never disappear could take "years".

China reported five new cases for Saturday, down from eight the previous day, the National Health Commission said in a statement yesterday.

The number of cases now stands at 82,947 and the death toll at 4,634.

NIGHTCLUB CLUSTER

South Korea yesterday reported five new domestic cases, all linked to a cluster of cases centred around bars and nightclubs in Seoul, which has raised fears of a fresh wave of contagion.

South Korea relaxed its lockdown on May 6, but a subsequent spike in infections linked to the Itaewon nightlife neighbourhood forced a rapid rethink.

The government eased broader restrictions by reopening offices and public facilities, but some nightclubsclosed again, and the authorities have also delayed the planned reopening of schools by a week.

South Korea reported 13 new cases as of midnight on Saturday, bringing the country's total to 11,050 with 262 deaths. - AFP, REUTERS

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