The Chinese mainland has passed the peak of the COVID-19 wave that started climbing in April, according to data released by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and healthcare experts.
The number of COVID-19 positive cases among all hospital visits exhibiting influenza-like symptoms, often linked to higher rates of transmissibility, dropped to 15.4 percent for the week of June 26 to Sunday, down from a peak of 42.5 percent recorded in late May, the China CDC said in its latest weekly update on the COVID-19 situation released on Thursday.
Throughout June, the daily number of fever clinic visits across the nation also dropped from about 290,000 on June 1 to less than 165,000 on June 30.
The mainland reported 1,968 severe COVID-19 cases and 239 related deaths last month. Two COVID-19 mortalities resulted from respiratory failure caused by the infection, and the remaining deaths were linked to a combination of underlying illnesses and the contagion.
Data released by the China CDC showed that the positivity rate was maintained at a low level of around 3 percent among the general population from late February to early April.
The rate began rising gradually due to waning immunity established during the previous round of infections that crested near the end of last year, alongside the accelerated spread of XBB — a highly contagious new variant.
More than 96 percent of COVID-19 cases detected during the week ended Sunday involved the XBB strain or ensuing strains, said the China CDC.
Wang Liping, a researcher at the China CDC, said during an interview in May that the wave of pandemic cases driven by XBB would last for some time, but the number of patients and their case severity would be much lower than the previous outbreak. Operations at hospitals and other social and civic functions have not been disrupted.
Li Tongzeng, a doctor at the infectious disease department at Beijing Youan Hospital affiliated to the Capital Medical University, told People's Daily that the peak for respiratory diseases such as COVID-19 and the flu had passed with soaring temperatures in recent weeks.
He said that a number of regions had experienced a spike in flu cases in March, and increasing COVID-19 cases from late April to late May. Since then, the number of respiratory cases has been falling rapidly as the summer approached.
Zhang Min, head of the respiratory disease and intensive care department at Shanghai General Hospital, said during an interview with local media that the recent outbreak wave appeared to peak around mid-to-late May, and has been brought under control.
"There are still some serious cases and newly reported infections at hospitals, but the overall situation has been reined in, given the (falling) number of fever clinic visits across the city," Zhang said.
She added that people who have recovered from recent infections should have strong immunity for three to six months. But personal hygiene measures, such as wearing masks in public places and maintaining social distance, are still recommended as immunity diminishes after six months.
The Beijing Municipal Health Commission also said this week that summer is the peak season for infectious intestinal diseases, such as cholera, diarrhea, and hand-foot-mouth disease.
Special attention should be paid to food hygiene, such as storing raw and cooked food separately as well as avoiding the consumption of undercooked seafood, the commission said.