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China ravaged by ‘WILDFIRE’ Covid outbreak after Xi forced into humiliating climbdown over world’s strictest lockdown

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CHINA has been hit by Covid outbreak that will spread like “wildfire” after the country abandoned its harsh lockdown.
Xi Jinping was humiliatingly forced to abandon his ‘Zero Covid’ policy after a wave of protests across the nation in which he faced rare calls for stand down.
China is reporting an upsurge in case as lockdown restrictions are lifted2China is reporting an upsurge in case as lockdown restrictions are liftedCredit: AFPA lockdown enforcer removing a barrier from an area freed from lockdown2A lockdown enforcer removing a barrier from an area freed from lockdownCredit: AFPIn a sharp turnaround, China has rolled back some of its most strict rules – including slashing the length of lockdowns and ordering pupils to return to classrooms.
Anger over China’s “Zero Covid” policy – involving mass lockdowns, constant testing and lengthy quarantines – stoked huge unrest on a scale not seen since the 1989 pro-democracy protests.
A rash of Covid cases in schools and businesses were reported Friday in areas across China 
While official data showed a fall in new cases, they no longer cover large parts of the population after the government on Wednesday ended mandatory testing for many people.
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In many cities, social media users said colleagues or classmates were ill and some businesses had closed due to a lack of staff.
“I’m really speechless. Half of the company’s people are out sick, but they still won’t let us all stay home,” said one post on social media platform Weibo.
People who said they were in Baoding, a city of 11 million southwest of Beijing, reported they tested positive using home kits or had fevers, sore throats and headaches.
Pharmacies have reportedly been mobbed by customers who bought medications to treat sore throats and headaches.

That came after rules were dropped that required pharmacists to report those purchases, prompting fears a customer might be forced into a quarantine centre.
There’s very few people coming in because there’s so many cases,” said Gang Xueping, a waitress in a Beijing restaurant.
“The country’s just opened up. The first one or two months is definitely going to be serious. Nobody’s used to this yet.”
But as the country’s vaccination programme struggles, many are now predicting China is one the brink of a wave of infections in a population with very little immunity.
Dr. Ali Mokdad, a professor at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, warned that Covid will spread rapidly in China.
“If you look at the numbers, only about 25 per cent of those in China have immunity against Omicron,” he told Fortune.
“If they open up, 75 per cent of the population is going to get infected. They cannot handle the explosion in infections and hospitalisations. This will spread like wildfire.”
It comes doubts have been raised about the accuracy of China’s Covid statistics.
After hitting a record 39,791 cases nationwide on November 26 but that has dropped to just 16,797 on Friday.
Raymond Yeung, China economist at ANZ bank, told the Financial Times on-the-ground observations indicated some cities, already had “high infection numbers”.
More big cities soon endure similar levels of infections.
According to Rodney Jones, principal at Wigram Capital Advisors, an Asia-focused macroeconomic advisory group, the situation is similar to the initial outbreak in Wuhan three years ago.
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“The behaviour of case numbers is very similar to 2020, where we had one [to] two weeks with genuine case numbers, before the veil was drawn,” he said.
“We have no idea whether we will see actual case data again, and whether the sharp downshift in cases reflects reduced testing or political management of the case data.”

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