China’s vast and sparsely resourced rural areas are racing to improve their medical infrastructure before the Lunar New Year holidays next month when hundreds of millions of factory workers will return home to their families from places where COVID-19 has been exploding.
China, which had imposed three years of the most stringent COVID system, lockdowns, and constant testing, reversed its course to living with the virus this month, leaving behind a fragile healthcare system.
Following widespread protests, COVID was lifted from the market and is now spreading unchecked. It’s likely to infect millions every day according to international experts.
China reported one COVID-related death on Wednesday. This is down from the three that were recorded Tuesday. However, many epidemiologists and foreign governments believe these numbers to be much higher and could see more than 1,000,000 people die in next year’s epidemic.
China claims that it does not consider deaths from COVID patients due to pneumonia or respiratory failure COVID-related.
The southwestern city of Chengdu was bustling with funeral parlors on Wednesday night. There were a lot of people entering the one that was guarded heavily by security officers.
A van driver who works for the parlor stated that the last few weeks were particularly hectic and that there had been a lot of people inside.
In major cities, hospitals and funeral homes have come under severe pressure. However, the primary concern about the ability of the system to deal with rising infections is the rural environment.
Wang Kaiyun (53), a Shanghai cleaner who hails from Anhui, stated that she was purchasing medicines for her family at home.
She said, “My husband and my son, as well as my grandson, are infected.” They can’t take any medication, not even for cough or fever.
Every year hundreds of millions of people return to rural areas to celebrate the Lunar New Year. It is a time when many of them, mostly those who work in the eastern and southern coasts of the country, are returning to their homes.
Authorities said that the holiday rush will last 40 days from January 7 through February 15, according to authorities.
China Daily, a state newspaper reported Thursday that China’s rural areas were increasing their capacity for medical treatment.
The hospital, located in Inner Mongolia’s rural region and home to more than 100,000 residents was looking for bidders for a contract worth 1.9 million Yuan ($272,308) that would allow it to convert its wards into intensive-care units.
Liancheng County Central Hospital, eastern Fujian Province was looking for tenders to supply medical equipment and ambulances. These devices could range from electrocardiogram monitors to breathing machines.
According to a Reuters analysis, December saw tenders for critical medical equipment two to three times more than usual. This suggests that hospitals were trying to fill shortages.
As shoppers and workers fall sick, the world’s second-largest economy will experience a decline in domestic production and consumption.
China’s contact-intensive service sector accounts for approximately half of its economic output. However, the anti-virus restrictions in China have hampered many businesses and limited travel. Many businesses within the service industry are struggling to grow as China opens up.
Re-opening opens up the possibility of Chinese tourists visiting shopping areas around the globe, which were once worth $255 billion annually. Some countries are still skeptical about Beijing’s COVID statistics because of how severe the epidemic has become.
China has reported 5,246 deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic. This is compared to more than 1,000,000 Americans. More than 11,000 people have died in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong.
According to the United States of America, India, Japan, Italy, and Japan, COVID testing will be required for Chinese tourists. The Telegraph reported that Britain is considering similar moves.
On Wednesday, the United States sent out a travel advisory advising Americans not to travel to China or Hong Kong. It also cited reports that “the healthcare system is overwhelmed” as well as the possibility of new variants.
On Dec. 26, passengers from Beijing and Shanghai were tested at Milan’s main airport. The results showed that nearly half of those had been infected.
China rejected any criticisms of its statistics, claiming they were politically motivated and unfounded attempts to discredit its policies. China has also downplayed the possibility of mutations and said it expected them to be less serious but more severe.
According to Chinese health officials, Omicron is still China’s dominant strain.
Australia, Germany, and Thailand, among others, said that they will not place additional travel restrictions for the moment.
China will no longer require inbound travelers to enter quarantine as its borders were closed to outsiders since 2020.