Confronting image reveals China's major Covid problem: 'Spreading intensively'
As a wave of Covid washes over China, images are beginning to emerge that highlight the mammoth task the country's healthcare system is facing.
With hospitals filling up just days after stringent zero-Covid restrictions were relaxed, infected patients have been filmed getting hooked up to IV drips while sitting in their cars outside clinics.
Videos showing the unusual scene have populated Chinese social media, with cars seen lined up with medical stands placed outside the vehicle.
Other videos show large groups of people sitting outside on the curb while being hooked up to a drip.
Patients without a negative PCR test result are not allowed to enter the clinics, according to the South China Morning Post, which also reported long waiting times for people seeking treatment.
Local media reports paint a picture of clinics already under significant stress. Hu Huiling, the deputy director of health clinic in Guangzhou, a sprawling port city northwest of Hong Kong, said insufficient medicines, supplies and available healthcare workers was a common story.
"At present many medical staff at the centre have been infected by their family members and there is a serious shortage of manpower," he told Chinese state media.
He said the number of patients now in Covid clinics is 10 times higher than usual.
Authorities have reportedly urged clinics to enhance their capabilities where they can to deal with the expected wave of Covid patients, many of whom are elderly and in many cases under-vaccinated.
Patients in China were getting treated while hooked up to IV drips in their cars because local clinics in several provinces are fully-booked. pic.twitter.com/URTv7P0C3k
— South China Morning Post (@SCMPNews) December 14, 2022
On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation's emergencies director Mike Ryan said vaccination would need to ramp up dramatically if China is to avoid devastating scenes playing out across the country.
Speaking at a briefing with media, he said the virus was spreading "intensively" in the nation long before the lifting of restrictions.
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"There's a narrative at the moment that China lifted the restrictions and all of a sudden the disease is out of control," he said.
"The disease was spreading intensively because I believe the control measures in themselves were not stopping the disease. And I believe China decided strategically that was not the best option anymore."
Like many countries including Australia experienced during the peak of their Covid waves, reports of product shortages and panic buying are emerging.
Drugs like ibuprofen, cold medicines and Covid testing kits are sold out in many places while home remedies are now largely unavailable online, including lemons and canned peaches which are considered a particularly nutritious delicacy, the BBC reports.
The China Daily newspaper noted that panic buying had been so rife the government in the city of Guangzhou was forced to call for "sensible purchasing".
"There is no need for hoarding them in large quantities," it said in a statement.
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