China’s stretched healthcare system is poised to peak in COVID infections

China's stretched healthcare system is poised to peak in COVID infections
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  • Chinese health official – COVID infections may peak next week
  • China reports no new COVID-19 deaths for third day
  • China is still not ready for a major epidemic – experts

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, Dec 23 (Reuters) – China expects to see a peak in COVID-19 infections within a week, a health official said, predicting further strain on the country’s health care system as authorities downplay the severity of the disease and continue reporting. no new death.

Faced with a growing epidemic and widespread protests against a “zero-Covid” lockdown and testing regime, China began dismantling it this month, becoming the latest major country to move toward living with the virus.

Its crackdown has crippled global supply chains and trade, sending the $17 trillion economy to its slowest growth rate in nearly half a century.

China reported fewer than 4,000 new symptomatic local COVID cases nationwide for December. 22 and no new COVID deaths for the third day in a row. Officials narrow criteria for COVID deaths causes criticism from many disease specialists.

Zhang Wenhong, director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases, said Thursday that China “will reach a peak of infections within a week,” according to The Paper, a government-backed news outlet in Shanghai.

“The peak infection will also increase the rate of severe disease, which will have some impact on all our medical resources,” he said, adding that the wave would continue for another month or two after that.

“We have to be mentally prepared that infection is inevitable.”

Chinese state media Qingdao Daily quoted a health official in the eastern city of Qingdao late on Friday as saying the coronavirus is in a rapid phase with 490,000 to 530,000 new daily infections in the city and will increase at a transmission rate of 10% in the next year. A few days.

Even so, Zhang said he visited nursing homes around Shanghai and found that the number of elderly people experiencing severe symptoms was low.

Bloomberg News reported on Friday, citing estimates from the government’s top health authority, that as many as 37 million people in China could be infected with COVID-19 one day this week.

Concerns about the near-term impact of China’s COVID wave pushed up stocks in China (.SSEC)Hong Kong (.HSI) and elsewhere in lower Asia. The yuan has also weakened.

Airfinity, a British-based health data firm, said this week that China’s infections topping one million with more than 5,000 deaths a day were “completely at odds” with official figures.

Shanghai Hospital guessed Half of the mall’s 25 million people will be infected by the end of next week. Experts say China could face more than a million COVID-19 deaths next year.

And cities continue to relax the rules.

Shanghai said people who have tested positive will be allowed to end home isolation after seven days, without specifying the need for more testing, if their symptoms have significantly reduced or ended.

The guidance earlier this month said they could end home isolation after testing negative in antigen and PCR tests.


China’s dramatic change in politics has caught a fragile health system unprepared, with hospitals scrambling to build beds and blood, pharmacies and clinics for medicine.

More than a dozen global health experts, epidemiologists, residents and political analysts were interviewed by Reuters identified failure vaccinating the elderly and publicizing the exit strategy, as well as an overemphasis on eradicating the virus as reasons for the strain on China’s medical infrastructure.

The campaign to vaccinate the elderly, which began three weeks ago, has yet to bear fruit. China’s overall vaccination rate is above 90%, but that rate drops to 57.9% for adults with booster shots and 42.3% for those 80 and older, according to government data.

Instead of strengthening hospitals and clinics and training health workers, China has spent too much money on quarantine and testing facilities in the past three years, these people said.

“There is an incredible lack of preparedness against the virus, even though they have given enough warning,” said Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease doctor at the Rophi Clinic in Singapore.

China’s National Health Commission did not respond to requests for comment on the criticism.

There are nine domestically produced COVID injections approved for use in the country, which appear to be less effective than Western-made vaccines using new mRNA technology.

Shipping of 11,500 BioNTech (22UAy.DE) mRNA vaccines for German citizens in China has arrived A spokesman for the German embassy in Beijing told Reuters on Friday.

The embassy hopes the first doses will be delivered “as soon as possible,” the spokesman said.


It was accepted by the World Health Organization no date New COVID hospitalizations from China after Beijing scraps zero-COVID policy. WHO said gaps in data may be due to Chinese authorities simply struggling to count cases.

Amid growing doubts about Beijing’s statistics, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Thursday that all countries, including China share information About their experiences with COVID.

As COVID rages in China, residents of some other cities that previously faced long periods of isolation are now learning to live with the virus.

Yang Zengdong, a Chinese teacher whose entire family is isolated in his apartment in downtown Shanghai, is mildly ill with COVID. welcome the change in politics. Just weeks ago, they would all have been sent to a quarantine facility and their facility would have been locked down.

“When I think about this situation, my feeling is just, wow, we’re so lucky because now we can isolate at home,” Yang said.

“This wave is something we have to deal with because we can’t stay connected forever.”

Reporting by Bernard Orr in Beijing, Casey Hall and David Stanway in Shanghai, Ella Cao in Beijing, Farah Master in Hong Kong and Chen Lin in Singapore; Written by Marius Zaharia; Edited by Lincoln Feast and Mark Potter

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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