• COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: pressing realities and city management

      Li, Rita Yi Man; Yue, Xiao-Guang; Crabbe, M. James C.; Hong Kong Shue Yan University; European University of Cyprus; Oxford University; University of Bedfordshire; Shanxi University (Frontiers, 2021-02-17)
      To most economists around the World, Covid-19 has provided an objective lesson in market failure. In the absence of complete information and sometimes even fake news, nobody knew what kind of pandemic it was at the beginning. Yet, there were 32,583 patients with laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 in Wuhan between December 8, 2019, and 8 March 8, 2020. The pandemic crippled and continues to cripple many health systems and has created unprecedented pressure on the psychological and physical aspects of millions of people's lives around the world. Over 200 countries and territories suffer from an acute shortage of medical personnel and medical equipment. The responses of different countries to Covid-19 has involved a range of measures that reflect national values, politics, and variations in scientific advice provided by local experts. Political considerations have often become more important than science. The Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan was one of the most serious cases amongst all cities in the world, yet Wuhan managed and gain control of this pandemic. Health care systems and policies are important aspects that affect the control of infectious diseases like Covid-19. In China, 98% of primary health-care is complemented by traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) with allopathic approaches. Previous research has found that the cure rate increased by 33% among mild cases after adopting TCM with allopathic approaches. The hospital stay of severe patients with TCM's and nucleic acid turning negative was shortened by over 2 days. Prior to Covid-19, the government's Healthy China 2030 plan was already addressing chronic diseases in the aging population by raising healthcare expenditure. This is in sharp contrast to other countries with aging population problems such as Italy, where the government cut the healthcare budget substantially after the economic downturn. Hospital bed allocation went down from a maximum of four for every thousand inhabitants to a maximum of 3.7, despite the fact that 23.1% of the Italian population were aged 65 years and older in 2020. Likewise, the post-2008 financial crisis in Spain forced severe cuts to healthcare costs, which caused pressure on the system when there was an increase in demand for healthcare services. These measures particularly affected the elderly and disabled who are more vulnerable to Covid-19. Healthcare costs become underfunded at the level of 6.4% of GDP. Apart from scientific evidence on the effectiveness of TCM in curing covid, financial expenditures on health care is an important distal factor that helped Wuhan overcome Covid-19 quickly. In the following sections of this paper, we review the three city management stages adopted in Wuhan, to study proximal causes of success in combating the virus: (1) strong government intervention early in the outbreak; (2) the city lockdown; and, (3) the use of digital measures, such as a health code, when the city reopened.