China hospitals cancel New Year holidays due to Covid wave

Beijing, Jan 2 (EFE).- Hospitals in several Chinese cities have canceled their New Year holidays to work overtime as the country grapples with a COVID-19 outbreak, according to local media on Monday.

The Global Times reported that all employees of the Third Municipal Hospital of Qinhuangdao in North China’s Hebei Province worked overtime during the New Year’s Day holidays “to fully meet the needs of patients for medical treatment.”

The hospital staff stayed put at the workplace after a local government order.

Hospitals in Shanxi, Hebei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shaanxi, and Heilongjiang provinces issued similar notices.

On Saturday, the ministry of emergency management said the three-day holiday for the New Year (Dec. 31, Jan. 1, and 2) marked “the first long holiday” since the government began relaxing the strict ‘zero COVID” policy in December.

However, hospitals in various regions announced on their official social media accounts that workers needed to report for duty during the three days.

The notices said hospital workers needed to meet their “responsibility to protect the needs of patients” due to “the current situation” at health centers.

Some hospitals announced they would work overtime to ensure patient treatments as the COVID wave surges.

The cancellation of holidays is part of an overall coordination of the national and local epidemic prevention and control departments to optimize prevention policies and ensure treatment.

The Global Times reported that several districts in Shanghai have “improved and perfected their management measures for graded diagnosis and treatment to divert non-urgent COVID patients from top-tier hospitals as infections and critical cases peak in recent days.”

The rapid virus outbreak across the country has cast doubt on the reliability of official data, which reports just a handful of recent deaths from the disease.

However, localities and provinces have estimated that a significant proportion of their populations suffered from the infection.

The Chinese health authorities reported Monday that a person died due to the virus on the first day of the new year.

Liang Wannian, the head of the National Health Commission’s Covid-19 expert response team, told reporters last week that it was difficult to accurately assess the death rate during the early stages of an epidemic.

“It is only after the wave when we can calculate the case fatality rate and death rate more accurately,” Liang said, adding that the top priority was to prevent severe cases and fatalities.

However, doubts about the health situation have prompted many nations to announce restrictions, like mandatory PCR testing, on travelers from China.

British-based health data firm Airfinity predicted 9,000 daily deaths, peaking at 25,000 per day on January 8.

The firm released the study on Thursday, saying it applied a model based on data from China’s regional provinces before changes to reporting infections were implemented.

They compared the findings with case growth rates from other former COVID-zero countries like Hong Kong and Japan when they lifted restrictions.

Airfinity predicted that cases in China might have peaked by now, with hospitalizations and deaths likely to peak in the next couple of weeks.

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