Hospitals should expand ICU beds as a priority, with COVID peak expected to last until end of January, respiratory expert says.

Beijing faces a surge in severe COVID-19 cases over the next two weeks, a respiratory expert in China has said

amid global concerns over possible mutations and knock-on effects for the world economy after the recent surprise lifting of China’s strict zero-COVID policies.

The easing of restrictions across China has coincided with a jump in infections experts say will likely gather pace through the winter

with some projections even suggesting China could face more than a million deaths next year, the Reuters news agency has reported.

“We must act quickly and prepare fever clinics, emergency and severe treatment resources,” Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert from Peking University First Hospital said

Wang said hospitals should expand ICU beds as a priority and that the COVID-19 peak will likely last until the end of China’s Spring Festival, which will fall on January 22.

COVID-19 cases will then fall off and life should gradually return to normal around the end of February and the beginning of March, Wang said.