Lemons, peaches and MCT bought as virus protection

Farmers sort and pack lemons during a workshop on November 24, 2020 in Neijiang, China’s Sichuan Province.

Huang Zhenghua | Visual Group China | Getty Images

Covid cases in China have spiked following the country’s relaxation of strict Covid rules. Also on the rise: the prices of traditional Chinese medicine and lemons, as Chinese citizens scramble to protect themselves from the virus.

Prices of fruits rich in vitamin C and antioxidants are seeing increases due to higher demand.

This month, a grocery store in Beijing charged 13 yuan ($1.86) for two lemons, about double the usual price.

Other locals have taken to social media platforms such as Weibo to complain about lemon inflation, with one user claiming to have paid 12 yuan ($1.72) for three lemons.

“I had no idea lemon prices could triple in a day,” another Weibo user posted.

At one point, lemons were out of stock in Chengdu on the Dingdong Maicai e-commerce platform, according to a local media report.

Canned peaches are experiencing a surge in demand. Fresh Hippo, another Alibaba-owned e-commerce merchant, reported that weekly sales of canned yellow peaches increased by almost 900%.

A notice is displayed at a community health service station in Beijing, China, on December 14, 2022, stating that Chinese patent medicines such as Lianhua Qingwen granules are temporarily out of stock.

CFOTO | Edition of the future | Getty Images

Shares of Chinese pharmaceutical companies involved in the production of traditional Chinese medicine hit their highest levels in a year earlier this month, following a rise in the number of Covid cases and approvals by officials herbal remedies.

Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical, which produces popular herbal treatment Lianhua Qingwen, jumped 184% in early December from a year earlier.

Resources in China Sanjiu Medical and Pharmaceutical also spiked more than 142% in late November compared to the same period last year.

Beijing Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital president Liu Qingquan said at a December briefing that traditional Chinese medicine, if taken with Western remedies, “has a very good effect” on stimulating gastrointestinal functions as well as the treatment of fever and other symptoms related to the Omicron strain.

In recent weeks, local and central government authorities in China have backed away from their draconian zero Covid measures which, among other things, had forced people to stay at home and many businesses to operate mostly remotely.

On Monday, China announced that inbound travelers no longer need to self-quarantine when arriving in the mainland from next year.

– CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report

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