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Chinese Health Authorities Warn of Potential COVID-19 Rebound in January

Chinese health authorities have issued a warning of a possible rebound in COVID-19 infections in January, despite a recent decline in patients at fever clinics since New Year’s Day. The National Health Commission spokesperson, Mi Feng, stated at a press briefing that while respiratory diseases, mainly influenza, are still prevalent, the COVID-19 infection rate remains relatively low.

Recent data from the multi-channel monitoring system revealed a positive rate of COVID-19 testing below one percent in sentinel hospitals after the New Year’s Day holiday. Wang Dayan, director of the China National Influenza Center, expressed concern about the upward trend in the proportion of the JN.1 variant strain, indicating a potential resurgence.

Experts anticipate a co-circulation of respiratory pathogens during the winter and spring, with influenza viruses dominating in the short term. Wang Dayan highlighted the potential for a COVID-19 rebound in January due to the continuous importation of the JN.1 variant, declining influenza, and a decrease in population immunity. The JN.1 variant is likely to become the dominant strain in China.

Influenza B virus proportions have risen significantly in both southern and northern provinces, surpassing influenza A in some regions. Wang emphasized the need for early influenza vaccination, as the immune response from contracting influenza A does not protect against influenza B.

Wang Guiqiang, director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Peking University First Hospital, emphasized the peak season for respiratory infectious diseases in winter and the potential for repeated infections. He urged increased attention to early intervention and diagnosis, particularly for the elderly and those with underlying diseases, as COVID-19 or influenza infections could worsen underlying conditions.

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