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Beijing braces for Covid Surge after China lifts pandemic curbs

    “This problem must be exposed and the numbers returned to their true appearance or not reported at all,” Hu Xijin, the former editor-in-chief of the Global Times, a Communist Party newspaper, said on Weibo. a popular social media site. “This is not conducive to maintaining the seriousness of official information, nor to shaping everyone’s objective understanding of the spread of the epidemic.”

    In Beijing, where PCR test booths have disappeared from many sidewalks, at least 2,600 cases were recorded Thursday, according to the government, but that number is widely seen as a significant undercount.

    Some residents said they already had the virus but were not seriously ill.

    Hannah Yang, 38, a manager at a film distribution company in Beijing, said more than half of her colleagues had tested positive this week. “Most people feel there’s no need to see a doctor,” she said. “More people are stocking up on drugs.”

    She said she and her son, an elementary school student, also tested positive on Friday morning. “I don’t feel anything,” Ms. Yang said. “It seems that the virus is very gentle.” She said her symptoms were much milder than the cold she had three months ago.

    “I feel there must be a lot of positive cases in Beijing,” she said. “No one is seriously strengthening themselves against the virus anymore.”

    Despite government reassurances, the abrupt dismantling of three years of bureaucratic machinery to stop the spread of Covid has raised concerns from medical experts outside mainland China. The experts had instead called on China to conduct a six-month vaccination campaign before opening.

    A year ago, China vaccinated more than 20 million people a day. But that effort failed last June, with vaccinations dropping to a few hundred thousand people a day. After urging residents to receive two injections and a booster last year, China has yet to deliver the fourth dose. So most of the population has not had recent protection.