COVID Cases Surge in the U.K. and China

U.K. cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are back on the rise. China reported their highest daily case figure in two years.

New COVID Infections Up By 46% Across the U.K.

By Peter Russell
March 11, 2022

In the 2 weeks since England ended COVID-19 restrictions, the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths are back on the rise -- a reversal of the overall downward trend that had appeared in the last month.

The government's own data as well as an independent analysis both report an increase in cases, especially among people 55 and older.

Throughout the pandemic, what has happened in the U.K. has often been a precursor to what happens in the United States a few weeks later. While the U.S. has not lifted as many COVID-19 restrictions, mask mandates and vaccination rules are easing in much of the country.

Legal COVID-19 restrictions ended on Feb. 15 in Northern Ireland and are set to be phased out on March 21 in Scotland and on March 28 in Wales.

Latest reporting from the government's coronavirus data confirms the rise in numbers. Overall for the UK over the last 7 days, the number of new infections was up 46.4%, deaths were up 19.5%, and patients admitted to hospital was up 12.2%. Hospitalizations and deaths often lag new infections by several weeks.

Independent data from what's known as the ZOE analysis, a app-based collaboration between the company Zoe Global Limited and King's College London, confirms the rise in numbers, although they are slightly different from the government data.

The latest ZOE data from newly symptomatic app users who logged positive swab tests, suggested an average of 175,189 new daily symptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the 2 weeks ending March 7 – an increase of 20.4%.

On average, 1 in 30 people in the U.K. were estimated to have COVID-19, the scientists said.

COVID cases were rising in all age groups, including among those aged 55 and older and the double vaccinated, the ZOE analysis suggested.

"The major increase in new cases across the country and in the elderly is a worry, especially as we now see an uptick in hospitalisations for the first time, said Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist from King's College London, and the study cofounder.

He added that an increase "was predicted when all restrictions were lifted", and that high rates of infection and prevalence were likely "for the foreseeable future.”

The analysis matched data from another study from Imperial College London, which reported an uptick in coronavirus -CoV-2 infections among older age groups that was likely to have been fueled by increased socializing and waning immunity.

China's Daily COVID-19 Cases More Than Triple

By Carolyn Crist
March 13, 2022

China reported 1,800 new symptomatic COVID-19 cases on Sunday, representing the highest daily figure in two years and more than triple the number from the day before, according to Reuters.

On Saturday, the country's National Health Commission reported 476 cases, which included 114 people initially classified as asymptomatic who later developed symptoms.

China's number of new locally transmitted asymptomatic cases, which the country doesn't classify as confirmed cases, rose to 1,315 on Saturday from 1,048 a day before, Reuters reported. That marked the fourth consecutive day of increases.

Although China's case count is far lower than other countries facing a surge, the growing numbers are posing complications for the “zero tolerance” policy to isolate people and suppress the virus as quickly as possible, Reuters reported. The surge has prompted health officials to allow the public to buy rapid self-test kits for the first time to detect infections.

Now 16 provinces are reporting new cases, as well as the four major cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing. The northeastern province of Jilin reported 1,400 of the new cases, accounting for 78% of the national total and up from 134 a day before, Reuters reported.

The increase “showed that some local areas, facing a rapid rise in the epidemic, lacked the capacity to expand medical resources, resulting in limited admission of infections to centralized facilities within a short period of time,” a Jilin official said during a news briefing.

On Friday, authorities in Jilin's provincial capital of Changchun locked down the city, began mass testing, and turned an exhibition center into a temporary hospital with 1,500 beds.

On Sunday, the southern business hub Shenzhen reported 60 new local cases, marking the city's highest since early 2020. Officials announced that the city of 17.5 million people, which abuts Hong Kong, will be shut down, according to The Associated Press.

Bus and subway services will also be suspended, city officials said, and everyone in Shenzhen will undergo three rounds of testing. All businesses except those that supply food, fuel, and necessary services will close or work from home this week, the AP reported.

In Shanghai, China's most populous city with 24 million people, the number of cases increased by 15 to 432 cases. City officials told the public to avoid unnecessary travel and said those who arrive in Shanghai must have a negative test within 48 hours before arrival, the AP reported. Schools shifted to online learning on Saturday.

In Hong Kong, a health official warned people not to assume the latest Omicron surge was under control. The financial hub of 7.4 million reported 32,000 new cases, which is down from about 50,000 after travel and business restrictions were imposed, the AP reported.

The China Development Forum, a high-level business gathering in Beijing that was scheduled from March 19-22, will be postponed indefinitely due to the current coronavirus situation, Reuters reported.

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References
SOURCE: WebMD, March 11, 2022. WebMD, March 13, 2022. Reuters: “China’s daily cases of symptomatic COVID more than triple.” The Associated Press: “China shuts business center of Shenzhen to fight virus surge.”