STORY: Some people in China's key cities braved the cold and a spike in COVID-19 infections to return to regular life on Monday (January 2).
In Beijing, people gathered to sled or ice skate on a frozen lake in the city on Sunday (January 1) nearly a month after China dropped stringent "zero COVID" measures to adopt a strategy of living with the virus.
However, a wave of infections has since erupted nationwide.
State broadcaster CCTV reported on Monday that frontline medical staff are working around the clock to treat COVID-19 patients.
In this hospital in the eastern city of Nanjing, patients have flooded the intensive care unit with 80 percent of its patients aged 65 and over, many of them with underlying health conditions.
That's according to doctors quoted as saying by CCTV.
China's biggest holiday, Lunar New Year, begins on Jan 21 this year.
Many tourist attractions are opening up after shutting last August due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
According to Chinese news outlet Caixin on Sunday, citing researchers in the Chinese commercial hub, infections in cities of Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Chongqing are close to ending.
But they added infections will peak in other urban areas in the latter half of January.
Monday's single new COVID death - flat from the previous day - does not match the experience of other countries after they re-opened.
The official death toll of just under 5,300 since the pandemic began compares with more than 1 million in the United States.
China has said it only counts deaths of COVID patients caused by pneumonia and respiratory failure as being related to COVID.
The relatively low death count is also inconsistent with rising demand reported by funeral parlors in several cities.
According to British-based health data firm Airfinity, about 9,000 people are probably dying each day from COVID in China.
Authorities around the world are imposing or considering curbs on travelers from China.
The United States, Britain, France and India are among those asking for a negative COVID-19 test.