After the relaxation of China’s strict zero-Covid strategy, many hospitals are dealing with an onslaught of infected people. In metropolises like Beijing, Guangzhou or Shijiazhuang, hospitals experienced “the first shock of a gigantic wave of infections and a shortage of health workers,” wrote the renowned business magazine “Caixin” yesterday.

Clinics are overcrowded. There are often snakes. Patients infected doctors and health workers. The magazine wrote of “Covid chaos”.

In a radical U-turn last Wednesday, the government largely scrapped its rigorous zero-Covid strategy. Lockdowns have been ended, the strict obligation to test, forced quarantine or isolation of contact persons has been largely relaxed. Even before that, however, there had been signs that the number of infected people was increasing and that the tests and tracking of the infections were no longer able to keep up.

Cold and fever medication and rapid tests are sold out in many pharmacies. Many shops and restaurants are closed. People don’t dare to go outside for fear of infection. The streets of the capital Beijing looked empty on Monday. After repeated warnings about Omikron had been issued in recent months, the state media downplayed the danger of the virus and compared the infection with normal flu.

According to the party-affiliated newspaper “Global Times”, leading epidemiologists said that the wave of infections would peak within a month. Since there is no longer any testing and probably hardly any reports, the official case numbers no longer reflect what is happening. Sick leave in companies rose. “I know of 25 positive cases or sick people in my area alone,” said a resident of Beijing. Another estimated that a third of his acquaintances were ill.