China’s infamous ‘Big Whites’ return as workers disinfect streets & buildings amid outbreak in chilling echo of Covid | The Sun

CHINA'S infamous "Big White" figures have made a chilling return as hazmat workers disinfect streets and buildings amid the country's latest mystery outbreak.

Public health workers wearing full protective gear have appeared on the streets of northern China in the latest social media footage.

Beijing and Liaoning have been hit the hardest with the recent wave of illnesses but it is in Sanhe, in China's northern Hebei Province, where images and videos have emerged from.

On Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, videos showed disease prevention teams disinfecting a classroom and city streets while dressed from head to toe in hazmat suits, as reported by Newsweek.

Termed "dabai," literally meaning "big white [figures]," the hazmat workers became a symbol of China's unpopular "zero-COVID" policies.

In a chilling echo of the pandemic, there are fears that involuntary quarantine at home and the forced removal of suspected cases from homes could make a return.

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China is entering its first full winter season since lifting strict COVID-19 restrictions last December but the reemergence of hazmat-clad personnel has already raised speculation of a U-turn.

It remains unclear whether the decision to disinfect streets and buildings was a local government initiative or central government directive.

China seem to have already brought back masks and social distancing after further alarming footage showed mask-wearing crowds inside hospitals.

But citizens are already taking extra precaution, with one image of a commuter wearing a full protective suit while riding a bus already doing the rounds on social media.

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It comes amid a surge of respiratory illnesses, notably among children, which has strained hospitals in the northern region.

This surge is exacerbated by children's reduced exposure to these illnesses during lockdown, creating an "immunity gap", according to medical expert Wang Guangfa.

In the last week, local media have reported of hospitals becoming "overwhelmed" with patients and doctors receiving more than a thousand calls a day.

Beijing Children's Hospital alone reported to state media CCTV that at least 7,000 patients were being admitted daily, exceeding capacity.

In addition, the largest paediatric hospital in nearby Tianjin reportedly received more than 13,000 children through its doors.

Hospitals have now warned of long waiting queues, leaving parents deeply worried about their kids and having to wait at least a day just for emergency care.

Some have been spotted desperately clutching children hooked to up to life-saving IVs on hospital floors in Beijing.

The concerning spread of illness has brought with it the circulation of known pathogens like mycoplasma pneumoniae.

The common bacterial infection, known to typically affect children, has circulated since May.

But many cases in children are now showing ground glass opacity, also known as "white lung syndrome", in lung scans – an indicator of severe respiratory illness.

Many parents are deeply worried about "white lungs" and many sick children need "lung cleansing", report Radio Free Asia.

In the past, only about ten cases were done per day on average but now more than 50 cases are being performed – with the peak being 67 cases in one day, according to The Epoch Times.

The worrying situation came into spotlight last week when the World Health Organisation asked China for more information on clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia in children.

While it is not unusual for the WHO to ask countries for more information about a cluster of illnesses, it was unusual for them to announce the request publicly.

However the WHO said no unusual or novel pathogens had been detected in the data provided by China.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has already confirmed that it is "closely monitoring" the latest outbreak in China as they continue to struggle with a mystery disease plaguing the country.

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