As Covid cases catapult in China and some other parts of the world, Chinese authorities have reportedly requisitioned medical supplies production as medicine stores run dry leaving millions across the country to struggle for basic drugs and testing kits. China is witnessing a fresh surge of coronavirus cases reportedly due to the BF.7 variant – a subvariant of Omicron BA. 5 – days after the lockdown restrictions were eased.

Pharmacies in major Chinese cities have been stripped bare following the Xi Jinping government’s sudden decision to lift strict lockdowns, quarantines and mass testing – leading to a frantic attempt to hoard all necessities while Covid and other viral infections continue to rise.

Also Read | A million infections and 5,000 deaths a day from Covid in China: Study

Here are the latest developments:

1) To address the medicine shortages and help “secure supplies” of key drugs, Chinese officials have tapped on more than a dozen Chinese pharmaceutical firms to help of key drugs, according to news agency AFP. At least 11 of 42 test kit makers whose products are licensed by China’s medical regulators have had part of their production seized by the government.

2) The shortage of medicines have also spurred people to turn to the black market, with people seeking out online sales channels to source generic versions of the drugs made elsewhere and not approved for sale in China, according to a Bloomberg report. These antivirals are being charged at huge premiums.

3) In Beijing, authorities have sent additional staff to six manufacturers of antigen kits to help them “increase production”, according to the municipality’s website. Meanwhile, in the eastern city of Hangzhou, authorities urged citizens to place medicine orders “rationally”, rather than hoarding them “blindly”.

4) At the same time, hospital wards in all major Chinese cities are filling up with elderly Covid-19 patients. A study estimated that China may already be recording over a million new infections and at least 5,000 deaths every day, in the backdrop of criticism over the lack of transparent data on Covid deaths and infections.

5) Covid cases have also been on the rise in the US and Japan, while India has detected at least three cases of the Omicron BF.7 variant so far. However, experts have said there is no need to panic as patients are recovering from the disease.

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