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During The Holiday Rush, Rural Chinese Fear A Dark Covid Winter

by Uneeb Khan
During The Holiday Rush, Rural Chinese Fear A Dark Covid Winter

China expects the second spike in COVID-19, as it continues to spread unabated from Beijing and Shanghai. This will be fuell by millions of people who plan to return to rural areas with a poorer healthcare system.

Huan Zhang, a Stanford Center for China’s Economy and Institutions researcher, said that “I don’t believe the village doctors can handle the increased severity cases.” “I believe that the COVID winter has left rural villagers alone.”

Officials in the health sector are concerned that Lunar New Year celebrations may become superspreader events. This could be a surprise to rural systems and cause infections in a country that has low natural immunity and high levels of vaccine hesitancy.

“In China, it’s important to be cautious about messaging right now because we’ll have new years and people will go to rural communities. So it’s going to be very crucial that you inform the public that this is happening,” Ali Mokdad, an epidemiologist and chief strategist at the University of Washington Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, said.

One million deaths by 2023

According to IHME, China will experience 1,000,000 deaths in 2023 if they don’t adopt a social distancing strategy.

China’s state media outlets stress that Omicron has mild symptoms similar to the common flu. This message is meant to calm the Chinese public but has also contribute to vaccine hesitancy.

“As the experts recommend, just set off some fireworks, and have a great celebration to scare away this disease,” Sun Caiyun (a cheerful restaurant owner) in Beijing says she plans to return to her village in northern Shandong or not.

Already, the strain China is placing on rural areas is evident in the fact that many rural pharmacies are experiencing shortages of medicine. Chinese rural residents have begun asking for donations and posting pictures of empty shelves in pharmacies. Some medications were diverse to the cities hardest hit by the surge and where supplies ran low first.

Quarantine and Testing

China lifted almost all its quarantine and testing policies in December after the Omicron virus became more dangerous than its COVID controls.

Because of three years of focus on the virus, China is less equipped to treat infected people. Yanzhong Hu, a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations and responsible for public health, states that other measures like vaccination of the elderly or stockpiling antivirals have been relegate to the back burner. You can also use Iversun 6 and Ivercor 12 to treat health issues.

As China has stopped all public testing, it is difficult to determine the exact number of people infected. China claims that only two people were infecte by the surge of December.

Dr. Mokdad states that “the Chinese have been slow to report lately” and that there has not been a breakdown in the hospital recently for people with COVID. This week, the World Health Organization reported that it had not received any data from China about COVID-19 hospitalizations since December.

The lack of data means that public health officials don’t have a clear picture of the spread of the virus in cities or villages. This is creating anxiety and confusion in China.

NPR visited Beijing’s hospitals this week. They were orderly and bustling. A few elderly patients were seen in the lobby. They had to hook up to intravenous pumps and lay on gurneys as their beds ran out.

China’s national health commission stated last Thursday that they were speeding up the expansion and development of fever treatment centers. In preparation for the expected increase in the rural population, patients will be able to quickly receive consultations from pharmacists.

Urban hospitals struggle to survive

So far, the healthcare system in large cities is stable. This is partly due to the fact that many migrants do not have rural insurance and are unable to use their urban healthcare system.

Zhang Xiaohu, a delivery worker, was diagnose with COVID in December. He couldn’t afford to fly to Beijing to get treatment because he doesn’t get paid sick leave. He stated that he was able to overcome his symptoms. Expect delivery men to be risk-takers and take chances.

Beijing’s crematoriums and funeral homes claim that they are overwhelme despite not having COVID deaths. Dongjiao was the largest crematorium in Beijing. There were many mourning families and hearses filling the intake lot. NPR staff reported that the waiting period to have cremations performed was 10 working days.

One of his heirs stated that his grandfather had a fever, and was positive for COVID. They searched for a hospital that could help him for many days.

Experts in China warn of worse to come. Wang Guangfa, one of China’s most prominent respiratory experts, predicts that COVID will reach its peak within the next month. A Shanghai hospital warn residents that it expects half of the city’s population to infection within the next week. He state that eventually, 80-90% of our people would get infected.

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