Chinese hospitals ‘extremely busy’ as COVID spreads unchecked

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  • Hospitals report surge in COVID infections
  • China reports 3 new COVID deaths on Tuesday
  • Some countries consider travel rules for Chinese travelers

CHENGDU (Reuters) – Chinese hospitals were under intense pressure on Wednesday as a surge in new coronavirus infections strained resources in the last major country to move to treat the virus as endemic. rice field.

In a sudden policy change, China this month began dismantling the world’s toughest COVID regime of lockdowns and mass testing, putting its battered economy on track for a full reopening next year. .

The easing of restrictions came after widespread protests against them, according to some international health experts, as COVID spread largely unchecked, infecting millions of people a day. It means that there is a possibility that

The speed at which coronavirus rules are being lifted overwhelms China’s fragile healthcare system, prompting countries around the world “living with the virus” to consider travel restrictions for Chinese tourists. did.

China reported three new COVID-related deaths on Tuesday, up from one on Monday. This is inconsistent with the experience of countries with much smaller populations after reopening.

Staff at Huaxi, a large hospital in the southwestern city of Chengdu, said they have been very busy caring for COVID patients since restrictions were eased on Dec. 7.

“I’ve been doing this job for 30 years and it’s been the busiest I’ve ever been,” said an ambulance driver outside the hospital who asked not to be identified.

Long queues formed Tuesday night in and out of the hospital’s emergency department and the adjacent fever clinic. Most of those who arrived by ambulance were given oxygen to help them breathe.

“Almost every patient has COVID,” said one of the emergency department pharmacy staff.

She said hospitals do not have stocks of COVID-specific medicines and can only provide medicines for symptoms such as coughs.

Zhang Yuhua, an employee at Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, said the recent patients were elderly and severely ill with underlying medical conditions. She said the number of patients receiving emergency care had increased from about 100 previously to 450 to 550 per day, according to state media.

A photo released by the state-run China Daily shows a line of mostly elderly patients being treated by medical staff in white protective suits in a hospital’s intensive care unit, some breathing through oxygen tubes. It is in the picture.

travel rules

In a big step towards freer travel, China will stop requiring inbound travelers to quarantine from 8 January, officials announced this week.

But while online searches for flights surged from very low levels on Tuesday, residents and travel agents are returning to something like normal given concerns over COVID and spending more cautiously due to the impact of the pandemic. suggests it will take several months.

Additionally, some governments were considering adding travel requirements for Chinese tourists.

US officials cited a “lack of transparent data, including viral genome sequence data,” as the reason.

India and Japan will require travelers from mainland China to have negative COVID tests, and those who test positive in Japan will have to undergo a week of quarantine. I plan to limit the company.

Asked about travel requirements imposed by Japan and India on Tuesday, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said: “COVID measures should be scientific and moderate, and should not affect the normal flow of individuals.” Stated.

financial pain

China’s $17 trillion economy is expected to suffer slowing factory output and domestic consumption as workers and shoppers fall ill.

Global luxury stocks rallied on news of China reopening its borders, but the market is likely to face subdued global demand in 2023 as the world’s second-largest economy likely faces subdued global demand. Other corners were less responsive.

U.S. automaker Tesla (TSLA.O) plans to implement a reduced production schedule at its Shanghai factory in January, extending production restrictions that began this month through next year, according to internal schedules seen by Reuters. be.

Tesla did not specify a reason for the planned production slowdown.

Some economists expect China’s growth to bounce back and recover from this year’s slow growth, which is expected to be around 3% for nearly half a century.

Morgan Stanley economists see 5.4% growth in 2023, while Goldman Sachs economists see 5.2%.

Reported by Martin Quin Pollard in Chengdu, Chen Lin in Singapore, Shanghai and Beijing bureaus. By Marius Zaharia. Edited by Lincoln Feast.

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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