Chinese hospitals are already under enormous pressure after a rapid 180-degree shift in the country’s Covid policy, where doctors and nurses could infect patients. Frontline health workers appear to be understaffed, even if they have the virus. A Chinese professor specializing in health policy observes the crisis in his home country from Yale University in the United States. Chen Xi told the BBC that he had spoken to hospital directors and other medical staff in China about the heavy strain on the system.
“Infected people had to work in hospitals, which created an environment for infection,” he said. Chinese hospitals have rushed to increase the capacity of their fever units to handle the massive influx of patients, but the message is still pervasive that it’s okay to stay home when dealing with the virus-borne illness. Because they weren’t, they filled up quickly.
A flood of pharmacies has led to a significant nationwide shortage of cold and flu medicines. Covid home test kits are also hard to come by.
Restaurants in Beijing are allowed to reopen, but there are few customers and the streets are quiet. Companies are telling their employees to go back to the office, but many don’t want to. This all makes sense given that the government had said just a few weeks ago that zero Covid could not be avoided and that infected people would have to go to a central quarantine facility, requiring a lockdown. It is suitable. This is likely because the lab is currently overwhelmed with work as Covid spreads rapidly. But the old approach is unsustainable and people are finally finding solutions.