Health experts said on Tuesday that the risk of seeing a new COVID-19 outbreak in China in the short term is minimal, despite of a recent uptick in new infections.
Wang Liping, a researcher at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a group interview that the recent increase in new cases is unlikely to overwhelm local healthcare systems or disrupt public life.
Data from the Chinese CDC show that domestic infections have been trending upward since late April and rising at a faster rate after the May Day holiday from April 29 to May 3. In the past week, its growth rate slowed.
Meanwhile, about 7 percent of fever clinic patients have tested positive for COVID-19 this month.
"Domestic infections are likely to grow slowly for some time, and some regions might see an increasing number of cases," she said.
Chen Cao, another researcher from the Chinese CDC, said that infections with the XBB strain accounted for 95.6 percent of all imported cases and 83.6 percent of all domestic cases in early May.
"Research has shown that the transmissibility and immune evasive capability of the XBB variant are stronger than those of other Omicron strains, but no major changes in its pathogenicity have been observed," he said. "It is important to keep practicing hygienic measures while avoiding over panicking or complacency."
Wang Guiqiang, head of the Peking University First Hospital, said that people who were infected during the previous wave of the epidemic in late 2022 still harbor immunity against the disease.
"Even if they are infected again, their symptoms tend to be mild," he said, adding that the severity rate of recent infections is very low and few people require hospitalization.
He said that special attention should be paid to protect the elderly, people who have never been infected and those who are unvaccinated or have preexisting illnesses.
He suggested that seniors with chronic illnesses who exhibit fever and other telltale symptoms to take a rapid antigen test, and then visit doctors and take antiviral medicines if they test positive.