Chinese provinces hit hard by Covid are seeing a strain on critical care, health officials say

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People wait outside a fever clinic at Tongren Hospital in Shanghai during a localized outbreak of Covid-19 infection on December 23, 2022.

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BEIJING — Intensive care beds and resources in some Chinese provinces are nearing capacity as Covid-19 infections surge, national health officials said on Tuesday.

“At present, available ICU beds and resources are nearing their limits in provinces with high demand for intensive care,” Jiao Yahui, director of medical affairs at China’s National Health Commission, said at a press conference. That’s due to his CNBC translation of the Mandarin remarks.

In such areas, “the availability of ICU beds and resources needs to be expanded or the turnover rate needs to be increased,” Jiao said.

Overall, Jiao argued that national availability of ICU beds was sufficient, at 12.8 per 100,000 as of December 25.

Earlier this month, mainland China abruptly ended many Covid controls. Meanwhile, infections are surging, putting pressure on the country’s already stretched healthcare system.

Official figures on recent infections and deaths are few and it is unclear to what extent the Covid outbreak has hit the country. Stopped sharing daily numbers.

Some local governments disclose details about local conditions.

Zhejiang province, which borders Shanghai, said on Sunday that daily Covid infections in the region have surpassed 1 million and were likely to double to a peak of 2 million per day around the new year. has a population of approximately 65.4 million.

Beijing’s capital — one of the earliest cities to see the Covid wave — has seen an increase in the proportion of critically ill and elderly patients at fever clinics, according to an official report on Saturday. It quoted a local hospital director who said the rate of visits by the elderly had risen from less than 20% to nearly 50%.

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Chinese health officials were speaking on Tuesday at a briefing on the country’s new Covid measures announced late Monday. Policy changes included plans to end the quarantine for inbound travelers from January 8.

“While we view the new guidelines as a major step towards a full reopening, we are mindful of the increasing challenges to China’s healthcare system in the near future,” analysts at Goldman Sachs said in a report on Tuesday. said.

“Accelerated China reopening timetable lends confidence to below-consensus Q4 GDP growth forecast (+1.7% y/y) and above-consensus 2023 GDP forecast (+5.2% y/y) said the analyst.

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