The widespread protests pushing back against ‘zero COVID’ policy late November made the authorities roll back its COVID restrictions. 

According to The Washington Post, last week, Chinese officials announced a nationwide loosening of Covid-19 requirements for testing, digital health passes, tracking and quarantines. Since then, hospitals have seen a spike in patients. Meanwhile, the virus has infected hundreds of medical professionals.

At a briefing on Monday, December 12, Beijing municipal officials reported that 22,000 patients visited fever clinics the day before—or 16 times the daily average a week earlier.

Yan, an eye surgeon in Beijing who just wanted to give her surname said, “Hospitals bore the brunt of zero covid, and are now overwhelmed by an unprecedented outbreak,” adding, “More than half of the staff in her hospital had tested positive in the past week.”

China’s health-care system is likely to become overburdened by an increase in cases. According to government data, China has 4.5 intensive care unit beds for every 100,000 people. It also wants to double its ICU capacity by the end of December which is proving to be more challenging to accomplish than anticipated.

Although it is “more complicated” to predict when the outbreak would stop, experts have suggested that China’s covid cases could peak in a month.

Zhang Ming, the deputy head of the intensive care unit at Zhongshan Hospital in Shanghai, told financial news outlet Yicai, “in the short run, there will be a massive demand for ICU resources as severe case rise,” adding that bigger hospitals in bigger cities typically have a better level of preparedness, but they “cannot speak for the situation in general.”
According to The Associated Press news, earlier this month, China ordered the “full mobilization” of hospitals. The order includes hiring more staff to ensure “combat effectiveness” and increase drug supplies.

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