Home Top Global NewsHealthcare Chinese lock themselves down and hoard medicine over covid fears

Chinese lock themselves down and hoard medicine over covid fears

by Ozva Admin
Chinese lock themselves down and hoard medicine over covid fears


Just over a week after China began rolling back its “zero covid” policy, marking the end of nearly three years of mass lockdowns, families in major cities are shunning their newfound freedom and hunkering down instead. with stocks of medicines and home remedies, out of fear. of a devastating wave of contagion outflow.

The latest change in government policy has been jarring. Despite massive protests against arbitrary and excessive zero-covid restrictions in at least a dozen cities last month, few expected for the government to move so quickly in the opposite direction. After more than two years of strict and ubiquitous covid control, many Chinese report feeling left on their own.

Pharmacies across the country have run out of fever medicines as well as traditional herbal remedies. Supermarkets and online retailers are buying up foods rumored to aid recovery. Paxlovid antiviral manufactured by Pfizer sold out almost immediately to nearly $430 per box when the online pharmacy 111, inc. It opened for sales on Tuesday.

Covid spreads and medical staff get sick after China relaxes restrictions

Esther Cui, a 28-year-old woman living in the eastern city of Hangzhou, visited eight pharmacies Thursday but sold out of ibuprofen and Tylenol, as well as Shuanghuanglian and Lianhua Qingwen, two traditional Chinese herbal remedies promoted as Covid treatments. by the government. .

“In a pharmacy, the clerk put in my hands two packages of medicines that I had not heard of and told me to buy them because they were running out too,” he said. “There have been so many changes in epidemic prevention policy in recent years that caught people off guard. Eventually, we react to any hint of change with all the preparations.”

Demand for self-medication products and advice has led to questionable health care advice, and some misinformation, proliferating online.

A Marxist scholar from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Jin Riguang, recommended chewing Sichuan peppercorns, a numbing spice, and drinking ginger and licorice tea. Canned peaches and lemons sold out on many platforms after being promoted as home remedies.

State media have warned people that washing their mouths with salt water and drinking high-alcohol distilled grain spirits do not kill coronavirus or prevent infection.

Even advice about staying hydrated had to be qualified with reminders not to overdo it, after Chinese state media reported that a coronavirus patient in southwest Chengdu got water intoxication while following official advice to drink a lot to help health. Recovery.

An electrolyte sports drink called “Alienergy” made by Genki Forest sold out after sales on some online platforms increased 2,000% in one day due to rumors that it would provide better hydration than water.

Officials have warned against panic buying, which could inadvertently prevent medicines and other valuable health care products from reaching patients on time. An advocate of traditional Chinese medicines, Zhang Boli, advised against being anxious because being in a bad mood could lower immunity.

However, public concern has worsened because the full scale of the outbreak is unclear. After the sudden removal of the requirements for regular PCR tests, authorities said they could no longer keep track of positive tests and discarded daily reports of asymptomatic tests. A new classification and reporting system for covid deaths has reportedly made it difficult to include cases.

As infections rise, China stops counting asymptomatic cases

Some online services that until days ago showed detailed breakdowns of infections have recently stopped updating. A search for the latest outbreak data on Baidu, China’s largest search engine, now returns a count of how many people have sought medical advice using the website’s online consultation service, rather than the number of infections.

Difficulties in finding accurate and up-to-date information mean that many people have relied on word of mouth to gauge how quickly the virus is spreading. For some, the wave hit suddenly.

“I didn’t really have any sense of crisis last week and I didn’t think about getting any medicine while others started stocking up,” said Tim Liao, 30, a design consultant based in Shanghai. Liao felt feverish and tired on Monday night, and regretted not buying medicine in advance. Online stores sold out. Shaking with nausea, he found himself unable to go to the pharmacy. His friends sent him the drugs the next day.

In virus hotspots, the self-imposed lockdown has put even greater pressure on logistics networks than previous state-mandated lockdowns. Online retailers and food delivery are not only facing a large number of orders, but many of the drivers are also testing positive. Companies like Eleme and Meituan are hiring new workers in major cities to overcome the traffic jams.

Liao said it was inevitable that China would change its covid policy, but he suspects the government did little to prepare. “All they did was drop the tests so we wouldn’t know how many people got the virus,” he said.

The government acknowledged on Wednesday a shortage of rapid antigen tests, which had not been widely used before last week’s announcement. Amid rising demand, resellers have been reselling kits at high prices online.

To combat public unrest, official propaganda has changed tack. After months of underscoring the seriousness of coronavirus infections to justify increasingly unpopular lockdowns, Chinese health care experts are now trying to assuage public fears of getting sick.

Zhong Nanshan, a leading respiratory disease expert and government adviser, said on Thursday that the coronavirus should now be considered “a new coronavirus cold,” not pneumonia, noting that the death rate for the omicron variant was now 0, 1 percent and comparable to seasonal influenza.

Alleviating public fears is also an attempt to ensure that limited medical resources are not spent treating non-serious cases. Authorities have warned the public not to call emergency services until they are in dire need of professional treatment.

A Chinese government-funded analysis by researchers in Hong Kong published this week found that a full reopening in all areas of the county could lead to nearly 1.1 million deaths and an increase in demand for hospital treatment of 1. 5 to 2.5 times greater than the capacity. With a gradual opening that allowed time for 85 percent of the population to receive a fourth booster and 60 percent to have access to antivirals, the estimated death toll dropped to around 600,000.

These dire predictions have led many Chinese families to err on the side of caution.

Luo Xia, 35, a translator living in Shenzhen, began placing orders for herself and her family in mid-November when she first suspected a change in policy was on the way. “I was worried about my parents, especially my mom. She doesn’t have good lungs,” she said.

When health authorities released a 10-point plan to relax covid controls on Dec. 7, Luo again turned to online platforms to search for ibuprofen, but could not immediately find any. He eventually placed orders at an online store that sold the pills for three times the normal price. Shipping took eight days, instead of the usual two or three.

“You really have to make the right predictions and react quickly,” she said, adding that even she didn’t expect covid rules to be relaxed so quickly. “The best solution would be for the central government to tell the local governments what to prepare in advance. But it seems that some local governments did not make preparations.”

Pei-Lin Wu in Taipei, Taiwan, and Lyric Li in Seoul contributed to this report.

You may also like

Leave a Comment