Queues form at fever clinics as China battles Covid surge


People lined up outside fever clinics at Chinese hospitals for COVID-19 checks on Monday, a further sign of the rapid spread of symptoms after authorities began dismantling strict restrictions on movement.

People lined up outside fever clinics at Chinese hospitals for COVID-19 checks on Monday, a further sign of the rapid spread of symptoms after authorities began dismantling strict restrictions on movement.

Three years into the pandemic, China is poised to align itself with a world that has largely opened up to living with COVID, making a major policy shift last Wednesday after unprecedented protests.

It ditched testing before many activities, limited quarantine and prepared to disable a mobile app used to track the travel history of a population of 1.4 billion people.

Authorities continue to urge mask-wearing and vaccinations, especially for the elderly.

But with little exposure to a disease that is largely under control so far, China is ill-prepared, analysts say, for a wave of infections that could strain its fragile health system and bring businesses to a halt.

Lily Li, who works at a toy company in the southern manufacturing hub of Guangzhou, said several employees, as well as supplier and distributor staff, had been infected and were in isolation at home.

“Basically everyone is now simultaneously rushing to buy rapid antigen test kits, but also somewhat given up hope that COVID can be contained,” she said.

“We’ve accepted that we’ll have to get COVID at some point anyway.”

In Beijing, around 80 people huddled in the cold outside a fever clinic in the upscale Chaoyang district as ambulances drove by.

A Beijing government official said late Monday that visits to such clinics had risen to 22,000 a day, up 16 times from the previous week.

Reuters witnessed similar queues outside clinics in the central city of Wuhan, where COVID-19 first emerged three years ago.

In recent weeks, local cases have trended downward since peaking at 40,052 in late November, official figures show, however. Sunday’s tally of 8,626 was down from 10,597 new cases the day before.

But the figures reflect falling testing requirements, analysts say, while health experts have warned of an impending increase.

In comments Monday in the state-backed newspaper Shanghai Securities News, Zhang Wenhong, head of a mall expert team, said the current outbreak could peak within a month, although the end of the pandemic could take three to six months. a way.

In a post on WeChat, Zhang’s team said that despite the surge, the current strain of Omicron has not caused any long-term harm and people should be optimistic.

“We’re about to get out of the tunnel; the air, the sun, the free travel, it’s all waiting for us,” the post said.


Chinese stock markets fell broadly and the yuan eased after hitting a nearly three-month high in the previous session as investors feared rising infections could disrupt consumption and manufacturing.

But for the same reason, demand has surged for shares of Chinese drugmakers and suppliers of masks, antigen tests and funeral services.

“Please protect yourself,” the management of a condominium in the capital’s Dongcheng district warned on Sunday, saying almost all of its staff had been infected.

“Try as much as you can not to go out…” he said on the WeChat messaging app. “Be the first person to take responsibility for your own health, let’s face this together.”

Such messages seem to have reached some who say they are reluctant to visit crowded places or dine in restaurants.

That’s why few analysts expect a quick and broad-based rebound in spending in the world’s second-largest economy, as the cheer that greeted the abrupt easing is tempered by uncertainty for consumers and businesses.

Still, China is pushing to free up domestic travel, even though overseas travel can take a while.

A state-mandated mobile app identifying travelers in COVID-affected areas will shut down at midnight Monday, according to a notice on its official WeChat account.

The number of domestic flights available across China topped 7,400, nearly double from a week ago, flight-tracking app VariFlight showed.

Sales of new homes in 16 cities picked up last week, partly attributed to the easing of restrictions as people venture out to view homes, the China Index Academy said.



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