BEIJING (AP) — Patients, most of them elderly, lie on stretchers in corridors or take oxygen while in wheelchairs as the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak depletes the resources of public health facilities in China’s capital Beijing, even after its peak amount. about her.
On Thursday, Chuyangliu Hospital, in the east of the city, was packed with newly arrived patients. Beds ran out by midday, even as ambulances continued to bring in more people. Hard-pressed doctors and nurses rushed to get information and sort out the most urgent cases.
Smash people seeking hospital care It came on the heels of China abandoning its severe pandemic restrictions last month after nearly three years of lockdowns, travel bans and school closures that have severely dented the economy and sparked unusual street protests in a country crushing political dissent.
The outbreak appears to have spread faster in densely populated cities first. Now, authorities are worried as they reach out to smaller towns and rural areas with weaker healthcare systems. Many local governments began asking people on Thursday not to make the trip home for the Lunar New Year holidays, indicating continued concern about opening up.
Abroad, an increasing number of governments They are ordering virus tests for travelers from China, saying they are necessary because the Chinese government is not sharing enough information about the outbreak. European Union On Wednesday it “strongly encouraged” its member states to mandate a COVID-19 test before departure, even though not everyone has done so.
Italy – the first in Europe where the pandemic took its toll in early 2020 – became the first EU member to require tests for travelers from China last week, followed by France and Spain with their own measures. This came after the US imposed a requirement to obtain a negative test result within 48 hours of departure.
China criticized the requirements and warned of countermeasures against the countries that impose it.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday he was concerned about the shortage From outbreak data from the Chinese government.
In a briefing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that Beijing “constantly shares information and data with the international community in an open and transparent manner.”
“For the time being, the situation of COVID-19 in China is under control,” Mao said. “We also hope that the WHO Secretariat will take a scientific, objective and unbiased stance to play a positive role in addressing the epidemic globally.”
The local government is appealing to avoid travel during the Lunar New Year holiday which comes days before the official lifting of many remaining restrictions – some not already in place – on Sunday.
“We recommend that everyone should not return to their hometowns unless necessary during the peak of the outbreak,” the Shaoyang county government in central China’s Hunan Province said in a notice dated Thursday. Avoid visiting relatives and traveling between regions. Travel less.”
Similar calls were made from Shuxian County in Anhui Province, southeast of Beijing, and the cities of Qingyang in Gansu Province in the northwest, and Weifang in Shandong on the east coast.
The appeals, which go back to the past few years of tough restrictions against the pandemic, showed some officials still worried about lifting them too quickly.
The Weifang government notice said residents should celebrate the holiday with video and telephone gatherings.
“Avoid visiting relatives and friends to protect yourself and others,” she said.
Despite these concerns, Hong Kong has announced that it will reopen Some of its border crossings with mainland China on Sunday and allow tens of thousands of people to cross daily without being put into quarantine.
The city’s land and sea border checkpoints with the mainland have been largely closed for nearly three years and the reopening is expected to provide a much-needed boost to Hong Kong’s tourism and retail sectors.
Associated Press correspondents Joe McDonald in Beijing and Kanice Leung in Hong Kong contributed to this report.
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