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In a dramatic policy shift, China earlier this month began lifting the world's most stringent COVID-19 quarantine and extensive testing regime, putting its already sagging economy in a difficult position.
According to international experts, the move has caused COVID-19 to spread uncontrollably and infect millions of Chinese every day.
The rush to lift COVID-19 restrictions has overwhelmed China's fragile healthcare system and prompted other countries to consider travel restrictions for Chinese visitors.
Staff at Huaxi, a major hospital in southwest China's city of Chengdu, complain about “extremely busy” conditions. caring for patients with COVID-19.
Tuesday evening saw huge queues inside and outside the emergency room. Most of the delivered patients were given oxygen tanks to help them breathe.
Zhang Yuhua, a staff member at Beijing's Chaoyang Hospital, notes that the admitted patients – mostly elderly people in critical condition. According to her, the number of patients has increased to 450-550 per day, compared to about 100 previously.
However, official statistics showed only one death from COVID-19 in the last week. International health experts predict at least 1 million deaths from COVID-19 in China next year.
China's $17 trillion economy is expected to suffer in the near future from a slowdown in production and domestic consumption as a result of pandemic.
Once the initial wave of infections has passed, economists expect China's growth to start to recover at its lowest rate in half a century, at about 3%.
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