Tue, 26 Sep 2023

Lhasa [Tibet], August 10 (ANI): Authorities in several parts of Tibet have rolled out mass testing, including in the capital Lhasa after the region reported a string of Covid-19 cases in over two years.

American broadcaster CNN reported that the region reported a total of 49 local cases this week as of Tuesday.

Authorities from Ngari prefecture said they found infections in four travellers from southern Tibet, marking the first reported cases in 920 days since one case was found at the pandemic's start in January 2020, the report added.

The new COVID-19 outbreak in Tibet, what China describes as Xizang, raises grave concern across the region amid the lack of medical personnel and nucleic acid testing sample collectors, as well as a shortage of oxygen for treating severe cases due to its high altitude.

"Now the hospital doesn't have enough manpower to deal with the sudden COVID-19 flare-up, even if we dispatched all its medical workers, including the administrative staff against the epidemic," a staffer from a functional department of the Xigaze Tibetan Hospital told the Global Times on Tuesday.

A doctor from the Lhasa People's Hospital said, "The treatment of mild cases is not a big problem for Xizang, as makeshift hospitals are arranged to take care of them, but the treatment of severe cases would be a challenge due to the lack of oxygen in the high-altitude location and limited medical equipment."Xizang Autonomous Region, home to about 800,000 people reported 27 cases on Tuesday, Global Times reported.

According to the Xizang regional health commission, the youngest patient is two and a half, and the eldest so far is a 76-year-old woman.

Based on gene sequencing tests, a local health official said that the COVID-19 cases detected in Lhasa, capital of Southwest China's Xizang (Tibet) Autonomous Region, were a family cluster infection caused by imported Omicron subvariant BA.2.76.

While China claims that its hard-line "Zero-COVID" policy has been successful in preventing large-scale hospitalisations and deaths, critics including the World Health Organization have decried its impact on the economy and society and said it is out of step with the changing nature of the virus and new methods of prevention and treatment. (ANI)

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