China nursing homes struggle to keep residents safe from Covid wave
China's nursing homes struggle to keep the elderly safe, amid rapidly increasing caseloads and inability to receive drugs on time.
Nursing homes in China are struggling to keep their elderly safe after a wave of Covid-19 infections recently swept the country.
The buildings have been locking themselves off from the outside world, with staff members sleeping on site and struggling to get medication supplies.
Authorities have warned of rapidly increasing caseloads, while Zhou Jian, the industry ministry official stated on Wednesday that the country was "making all-out efforts to ramp up the production of key medicines".
Experts have concerns over the country being ill-equipped and not ready to manage the "exit wave" of infections as it presses ahead with reopening and tries to deal with millions of vulnerable elderly who are still not fully vaccinated.
In the meantime, eldercare facilities have been left to manage alone, the manager of one privately run Beijing home said.
"We are fully sealed off," the manager, who asked to remain anonymous, told AFP.
Individuals are not allowed to enter or leave the facilities; they are only receiving food and medical supplies.
The home ordered last week medical supplies "at a high price", he said, but nothing has been received yet, and the city's logistics network is battered by infections among delivery workers.
"Couriers and delivery personnel are almost all Covid positive," he said. "Even if you disinfect or throw away all the outer packaging, plus the plastic packaging, you can't spray disinfectant on all the food that comes in."
Several Chinese eldercare facilities have been locked down for weeks as per local government directives. Yuecheng Senior Home in Beijing said last week that it had already been sealed off for almost 60 days.
The Xiangfu Nursing Home in Shanghai would remain "closed management", and all employees will be forced to sleep on-site. The staff is given nucleic acid tests every day.
"As society optimises prevention and control policies, our home should in particular maintain high vigilance," the home said in a statement.
On November 26, China reported 39,791 new COVID-19 infections, of which 3,709 were symptomatic and 36,082 were asymptomatic, as per the National Health Commission. The day before, China had announced 35,183 new cases a day earlier, with 3,474 symptomatic and 31,709 asymptomatic infections counted separately in China.