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China reels under massive coronavirus wave: Reports

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Official blames anti-zero-Covid protests on 'foreign forces'

Beijing: Nearly a fortnight after China lifted the much-despised ‘zero-Covid’ restrictions following a spate of protests, the country is reeling under a massive coronavirus wave, with a Chinese diplomat blaming “foreign forces” for the anti-government demonstrations.

Videos circulating in China’s social media showed clinics in Beijing and some other cities flooded with patients with queues extending onto footpaths with people patiently waiting for their turn in the cold winter.

Videos also showed many hooked on to IV drips waiting in their cars and in the parking outsides of the clinics.

While many with heavy fever waited outside the clinics, the Omicron virus is having a field day with most of the apartment blocks, which were earlier under the cover of zero-Covid reported fast-increasing cases.

The virus is not sparing anyone, including Chinese Foreign Ministry officials, Beijing-based diplomats and journalists.

Meanwhile, a senior Chinese diplomat has alleged that last month’s anti-zero covid protests, which included slogans against President Xi Jinping and the ruling Communist Party, were caused by the local government’s failure to manage the epidemic but were soon “taken advantage of” by “foreign forces.”

The remarks by Lu Shaye, China’s Ambassador to France, were the first by a Chinese official after rare protests erupted in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, and other cities, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Thursday.

A transcript of Lu’s comments made at a reception on December 7 was published on the Chinese embassy’s website.

“In the beginning, I think the Chinese public initiated the protests to express their dissatisfaction (with) how local governments have failed to fully implement the central government’s policies. But the protests were soon being taken advantage of by foreign forces,” Lu said.

“I think the real protests’ only happened on the first day. Foreign forces came into play already on the second day,” said Lu, whose fiery remarks in the past have made him one of the high-profile “wolf warrior” diplomats of China, the report said.

Under the zero-Covid policy, anyone testing positive for covid and their contacts would immediately have sent, in some cases dragged to government-run quarantine homes where people complained about poor conditions.

However, the government apparently peeved over the protests in several cities including Beijing, announced on December 3 the lifting of various restrictions including mandatory interning in quarantine centres.

The government also removed scores of testing centres and the results of those who underwent testing in community centres stopped showing in official Apps.

Instead, people were advised to treat themselves at home for mild symptoms with official epidemiologists suddenly assuring people that the Omicron variant, currently sweeping across the country, is not dangerous unlike the Delta virus and will subside after a few days of rest and medicines.

Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

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