Daily life creeps towards normality in Beijing, hospitals come under pressure

By Álvaro Alfaro

Beijing, Dec 23 (EFE).- The hustle and bustle of everyday life is slowly returning to Beijing’s streets despite the pressure facing hospitals due to a surge in Covid-19 cases and amid doubts surrounding the accuracy of case numbers reported by China, which was questioned by the World Health Organization.

China’s capital remained paralyzed for several days as the virus circulated among the population after the government eased its strict zero Covid-19 policy, prompting many residents to remain isolated.

Now, however, a number of Beijing locals believe that most of the city’s 20 million people have had the virus.

“In my company, more than 95% of employees have had Covid and all my friends have been infected,” one social media user on Weibo — China’s answer to Twitter, which is banned — said.

“I think we are among the few who have not been infected.”

Beijing has gradually recouped its normal activity levels in recent days as residents shed their fear of the virus or lower their guard after recovering from infection.

Commercial centers are no longer as deserted as they were several days ago with a growing number of people heading to shops and restaurants given that negative PCR tests are no longer necessary to access public spaces.


While public areas open up once again in Beijing, pressure is growing on hospitals due to an influx of infected patients.

Local media reported that healthcare workers from other provinces, including Hunan, Jiangsu and Shandong, are due to travel to the capital city to lend a hand.

Some 160 respiratory and critical care experts left for Beijing from Hunan on Thursday, The Economic Observer said in a report that later disappeared from its website, apparently due to censorship.

A Beijing doctor cited by the news site said waiting times at their hospital stood between three to six hours and that it was hard to find space in the 80-bed intensive care unit.

The doctor added that nurses were treating six intensive care patients on average, rather than the usual one-on-one service.

Beijing authorities hope the hospital system will experience a decrease in patient numbers, highlighting that 65,000 people with symptoms of fever went to the hospital on Wednesday compared to the 73,000 registered in the days prior.

Medicines to relieve Covid-19 symptoms such as Ibuprofen are in short supply.

Local governments have producers to boost the outcome of both medicine and other products such as antigen tests and face masks.

The high demand in China has some residents searching for alternatives overseas, and led Taiwan to mull restrictions on over-the-counter medicines like Panadol to protect stock levels.


WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus this week said the organization was “very concerned over the evolving situation in China, with increasing reports of severe disease.”

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