COVID in China: Health service under pressure as more cases emerge
People take nucleic acid test in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province, March 13, 2022. /CFP

People take nucleic acid test in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province, March 13, 2022. /CFP

Health services in some areas in China are under pressure as COVID-19, especially the Omicron variant, emerged with more than 1,000 positive test results in a day.

In northeast China's Jilin Province, 1,412 confirmed cases were found on Saturday alone, pushing up the number of total confirmed cases to more than 2,000.

A local health official said the governments in some areas didn't take the highly contagious Omicron variant seriously enough.

"Some areas didn't fully expand the capacity of health services," said Zhang Yan, deputy head of Jilin's health commission. "This limited the ability to enroll the patients to hospitals."

A new round of city-wide testing campaign is running in Jilin City and the provincial capital Changchun.

The province is taking multiple measures to control the spread of COVID-19, especially in schools, communities and rural areas.

Engineers have finished building a new temporary hospital in Changchun, with more than 1,500 beds, which will be put into operations soon.

Additionally, three hospitals in the city have managed to add a total of 1,709 beds for COVID-19 patients.

In eastern China's metropolitan Shanghai, more than 30,000 people were found to be close contact or secondary close contact, who have all been taken care of.

"We have noticed the problem that some people have to wait in long queues for COVID-19 tests," said Lu Taohong, deputy head of Shanghai Municipal Health Commission. "And we are taking measures to accelerate the process."

Lu noticed that nucleic acid testing is not an easy process, which requires professional workers to take samples and transport them to laboratories.

"We have asked hospitals to send backup staff to join the testing work," Lu said. "We hope to keep the machines running while the health workers rest."

Local experts tried to persuade Shanghai residents to strictly follow the control measures and keep the "hard times" as short as possible.

"I guess you don't have to meet a friend right now," said Wu Fan, member of the municipality's expert group for disease control. "The short-term discomfort will reward us long-term satisfaction."

Wu also recommended working remotely and avoiding public transportation during the control period.

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