China has requisitioned medical supplies production across the country as millions struggle to obtain basic drugs and testing kits in the face of a surge in Covid-19 cases.
Pharmacies in major cities have been stripped bare in the wake of the Chinese government’s sudden decision to lift years of lockdowns, quarantines and mass testing.
Authorities have urged those with mild symptoms to stay at home and take treatment into their own hands, leading to a run on everything from ibuprofen to rapid antigen tests.
To address nationwide shortages, more than a dozen Chinese pharmaceutical firms have been tapped by officials to help “secure supplies” of key drugs — a euphemism for requisitioning — according to AFP interviews and local media.
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 or received orders from the state, local reports said.
Wiz Biotech, a rapid antigen test maker in the southern city of Xiamen, confirmed to AFP on Thursday that all kits they produce will be requisitioned by the local government.
In Beijing, authorities have sent additional staff to six manufacturers of antigen kits to help them “increase production”, the municipality said on its website.
Across China, millions are struggling to get hold of basic medical supplies. Some local authorities have instituted rationing policies. In Zhuhai city, officials said Monday that ID registration would be needed to buy fever medicines at more than 500 pharmacies, with residents now only allowed to purchase six tablets a week.
Nanjing, the capital of eastern Jiangsu province, said it had secured two million fever medication tablets, but that customers were also limited to six a week. The eastern city of Hangzhou on Thursday urged citizens to place medicine orders “rationally” based on their needs.
In the face of the outbreak on the mainland, anxious shoppers in Hong Kong have been snapping up over-the-counter flu medicine, clearing out pharmacy shelves for nearly two weeks. The semi-autonomous city’s largest pharmacy chain, Mannings, has limited purchases of fever, cold, flu and cough medicines by popular Western brands, as well as Chinese Lianhua Qingwen capsules, citing “a sudden surge in demand”.
With inputs from NDTV