China Says Nearly 2,000 Doctors & Nurses Infected As Shortages Of Medical Supplies Persist


  • China says 1,716 medical workers have been infected
  • Singapore reports largest daily jump in cases
  • Hubei’s new party boss orders quarantine tightened
  • President Xi touts new “biosecurity law”
  • Hong Kong Disney land offers space for quarantine
  • Chinese company says blood plasma of recovered patients useful in combating the virus

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Following Chinese health officials’ claim last night that it “double-counted” some deaths (while crematoriums in the country have been working 24/7 as the outbreak has worsened over the last few weeks), the good people at China’s NHC have disclosed for the first time that 1,716 medical workers have been infected across the country.

Does this figure seem a little underwhelming? Officials put the infected medical worker total at 3.8% of 60k+ total cases on the mainland, and added that six medical workers – including the martyr Dr. Li – have died as of Friday. Of course, even if they’re all wearing protective gear (which we know many aren’t especially in the hardest hit areas like Hubei) this number would still seem low for such an infectious disease, given that more than 65,000 cases have been confirmed across the world.

One expert who spoke to the New York Times said the number of infected medical workers is “concerning.”

“I think it’s quite concerning,” said Benjamin Cowling, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong. “Healthcare workers face the challenge of caring for a substantial number of patients in Wuhan. It’s worrying to discover that a number of them have been infected.”

From what we’ve heard and read, it seems that shortages of supplies like facemasks, gloves, goggles and other protective gear have persisted, even in Hubei, according to the NYT. During the SARS outbreak, 961 medical workers were infected, representing some 18% of all infections. Since COVID-19 is even more contagious than SARS, we’d expect the number of medical workers infected to be even higher.

After expressing skepticism about Beijing’s response to the virus earlier in the week, it looks like the WHO is back to shilling for the Communist Party, claiming overnight that the jump in cases in China shouldn’t be characterized as a “spike,” and that it’s normal to change how cases are defined.

Across the mainland, the Chinese people, who have been frustrated by the government’s dissembling, have come up with jokes like this one.

Given everything we’ve learned about the virus, and all the reports about shortages of medical supplies like facemasks across the country, but especially in Hubei Province, we suspect that the real number is much, much larger. It’s just the latest evidence that Beijing hasn’t given up on doctoring its disease stats, even after its big non-admission on Thursday that its methods for confirming virus-linked cases and deaths hadn’t been sufficiently inclusive.

As we first pointed out yesterday, party officials said yesterday that the country would use “wartime measures” – a kind of public emergency declaration – to fight the virus, suggesting that the lockdowns will become even more widespread.

And as that happens, more scenes like these are playing out across the country.

In more immediately alarming news, Singapore reported nine new cases overnight, the largest daily increase yet in the city-state, which is now reporting a total of 67 cases, leaving it in third place after mainland China and the ‘Diamond Princess’ (cases quarantined off the ship are being counted separately from domestic Japanese cases).

Meanwhile, as the quest for a vaccine continues, Chinese state media is reporting that the China National Biotec Group has found virus-neutralizing antibodies in the plasma of recovered patients. Experiments have shown that these antibodies can help kill the virus, potentially speeding up the timeline for a successful vaccine.

The company said it had successfully prepared the plasma for clinical treatment after strict blood biological safety testing, virus inactivation and antiviral activity testing. The plasma had been used to treat 11 patients in critical condition, with significant results, it said.

Here’s more on that from SCMP:

Clinical tests showed that, after 12 to 24 hours of treatment, the main inflammatory indicators in the laboratory decreased significantly, the proportion of lymphocytes increased, key indicators such as blood oxygen saturation and viral load improved, and clinical signs and symptoms improved significantly.

“The plasma product to treat the novel coronavirus is made from plasma loaded with antibodies donated by recovered patients. It went through virus inactivation and was tested against virus-neutralising antibodies and multiple pathogenic microorganisms,” the company said, according to the report.

Following the scapegoating of two of the most senior party officials in Hubei, the province’s new party boss, Ying Yong, held his first meeting on the outbreak with staff late Thursday, and immediately proceeded to lay down the law: He ordered officials to redouble their efforts to tighten quarantine controls in communities and neighborhoods across the province. This includes making sure that every individual suspected of infection must be quarantined.

In other news, China’s zombie companies are breathing a sigh of relief after the Communist Party ordered the nation’s banks to implement a loan default ‘grace period’ to ensure that China’s mountain of bad debt doesn’t come tumbling down like a house of cards.

Banks are told to tolerate higher bad loans and further raise tolerance for regions and industries hit hard by the virus

As the outbreak rages unabated and China struggles to get its economy back to work, the leadership in Beijing have continued to parrot the party line that the backlash for China’s economy will remain minimal, with China’s foreign secretary becoming the latest to assure the public that the economy will swiftly recover after a brief pullback.

President Xi said Friday that the country must improve its responses to major public health crises, and added that a new “biosecurity law” would soon be passed.

Finally, readers who enjoy a little dark humor (we suspect that’s most of you) should get a kick out of this: Disneyland Hong Kong has agreed to let the city government use its land for quarantine space.


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