May 25, 2022

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China's healthcare system faces challenges with variable omicron outbreaks

China’s healthcare system faces challenges with variable omicron outbreaks

Image copyright AFP Image caption A resident of Shenyang, northeastern China, is being tested for COVID-19 on April 7, 2022.

China is facing the worst outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, which has prompted authorities to lock up millions of people and prepare beds for emergency hospitalization, adding to pressure on the health system, especially in Shanghai.

The country is implementing the “Covid Zero” strategy, which is to do everything possible to prevent more cases, which includes testing a large part of the population and isolating thousands of people in private centers or hospitals.

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As a result, the health system in Shanghai, the main epicenter of this wave due to the omicron variant, is maximizing its capacity to ensure simultaneous testing and isolation of infected and treatment of patients without Covid-19 disease.

The following is a list of the main challenges facing China:

– vaccination rate –

By mid-March, 1.2 billion people had received at least two doses of vaccines, 90% of the population.

So far, only half of the Chinese have received a booster dose.

An additional difficulty is protecting the older population. In the group of people over 80 years of age, only half received two doses.

In mainland China, so far, only Chinese vaccines are licensed, although the authorities have given the green light under certain “conditions” for the use of the anti-Covid pill Baxilovid, from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

According to several studies, Chinese vaccines are, on average, less effective than other compounds, despite providing protection against severe cases.

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– Pressure in hospitals –

China’s health care system has improved in recent years, but it has to deal with staff shortages and the elderly.

According to the Ministry of Health, China has only 2.9 general practitioners per 10,000 inhabitants. By comparison, the UK has the same number of doctors per 1,000 people.

There are also areas that are better served than others.

Researchers at the prestigious Peking University have warned that the country could face a “massive outbreak” that would lead to the collapse of the health care system if restrictions are eased, as Europe and the United States have done.

– Conflicts between country and city –

Although poverty has decreased significantly in the country in recent decades, there are still very noticeable differences between cities and rural areas in access to health care.

The latest medicine, the most experienced doctors and the best hospitals are found in large cities where residents have a range of choices between public centers and private clinics.

– Health system and “Covid Zero” strategy –

Shanghai is the most developed city in the country, so it is surprising that it is facing a lot of difficulties in the face of the health crisis and has problems finding beds to isolate the infected.

According to the authorities, 130,000 are available or will be available in the next few days.

About 40,000 have been installed at the National and Congress Exhibition Center in Shanghai.

In most cases they welcome asymptomatic people.

Confined city dwellers, on the other hand, complain about lack of access to fresh food and emergency hospital care.

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According to Chinese media, at least two people with asthma died after not receiving hospital care because they did not have a negative Covid test.

About 38,000 health workers and 2,000 military personnel from other parts of the country have been sent to Shanghai to help with health care and food distribution.


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