Chinese hospitals, funeral homes ‘extremely busy’ as COVID spreads unchecked

  • Hospitals, funeral parlors report spike in COVID infections
  • Three new COVID deaths were reported in China for Tuesday.
  • Some countries consider travel rules for Chinese visitors.

CHENGDU, Dec 28 (Reuters) – Chinese hospitals and funeral homes were under severe pressure on Wednesday as a rising wave of COVID-19 strained resources, amid doubts over the scale of the outbreak and official figures. has forced some countries to consider new travel rules on Chinese. visitors

In a sudden policy shift, China this month began to lift the world’s strictest COVID regime of lockdowns and widespread testing, putting its battered economy on track to fully reopen next year. given.

According to some international health experts, the lifting of the restrictions, which came after mass protests against them, means that COVID is spreading out of control and could potentially infect millions of people a day. doing.

The speed with which China, the world’s last major country to move toward treating the virus domestically, has lifted Covid laws has overwhelmed its fragile health system.

China reported three new Covid-related deaths for Tuesday, up from one for Monday – a number inconsistent with funeral parlor reporting, as well as those from sparsely populated countries after their reopening. With experience.

Staff at Huaxi, a major hospital in the southwestern city of Chengdu, said they were “extremely busy” with COVID patients.

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“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and it’s the busiest job I know,” said an ambulance driver outside the hospital, who declined to be identified.

There were long queues in and out of the hospital’s emergency department and the adjoining fever clinic on Tuesday evening. Most of those arriving in ambulances were given oxygen to help them breathe.

“Almost all the patients have Covid,” said a member of the emergency department pharmacy staff.

He said the hospital does not have any stock of specific medicines related to COVID and can only provide medicines for symptoms like cough.

Car parks around Chengdu’s largest Dongjiao funeral home were packed. Funeral processions continued as smoke rose from the crematorium.

“We have to do this about 200 times a day now,” said one funeral worker. “We are so busy that we don’t even have time to eat. This has been the case since we opened. Before it was around 30-50 a day.

Another worker said, “Many people have died from COVID.

At another cemetery in Chengdu, the privately owned Nanling, staff were just as busy.

“There have been a lot of deaths from COVID recently,” said one worker. “The funeral places are fully booked. You can’t get one until the new year.

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China has said it only counts deaths of COVID patients due to pneumonia and respiratory failure as Covid-related.

Zhang Yuhua, an official at Beijing Chuyang Hospital, said the recent patients were elderly and seriously ill with underlying diseases. He said the number of patients receiving emergency care has reached 450-550 per day, up from around 100 earlier, according to state media.

The fever clinic at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing was also “overrun” with elderly patients, state media reported.

Nurses and doctors have been asked to work while sick and retired medical workers in rural communities have been rehired to help. Some cities suffer from drug shortages.

Travel rules

In a major step toward freer travel, China will stop requiring domestic travelers to go into quarantine starting Jan. 8, officials said this week.

Hong Kong’s global financial center also said on Wednesday it would lift most of its last remaining COVID restrictions.

Online searches for flights out of China rebounded from record lows on Tuesday, but residents and travel agencies suggested it would be months before anything normal could return, as precautions remain.

Moreover, some governments were considering additional travel requirements for Chinese visitors.

US officials cited a “lack of transparent data” as reasons for doing so.

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India, Taiwan and Japan will require a negative COVID test for travelers arriving from mainland China, with those testing positive in Japan having to spend a week in quarantine. Tokyo also plans to limit increased airline flights to China.

The Philippines was also considering testing.

Economic pain

China’s $17 trillion economy is expected to face a slowdown in factory output and domestic consumption as workers and shoppers fall ill.

News of the reopening of borders sent global luxury stocks higher, but the reaction in other corners of the market was more muted.

U.S. automaker Tesla ( TSLA.O ) plans to run a reduced production schedule at its Shanghai plant in January, according to an internal schedule reviewed by Reuters. He did not give a reason.

Once the initial shock of new infections wears off, some economists expect Chinese growth to rebound with a vengeance, expected this year to be its slowest in nearly half a century. Somewhere 3 percent.

Economists at Morgan Stanley expect growth of 5.4 percent in 2023, while Goldman Sachs experts see 5.2 percent.

Martin Quinn Pollard in Chengdu, Chen Lin in Singapore and reporting from the Shanghai and Beijing bureaus; Written by Marius Zaharia; Edited by Lincolnfest and Christian Schmollinger

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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