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China and Covid19

Chinese Clinic Launches ‘Drive-Through IV Infusion’ as Covid Cases Surge

As Chinese clinics are overflowing with Covid patients, netizens discuss the widespread use of IV infusions and if it actually helps.

Manya Koetse



Some noteworthy images and one video have been circulating around WeChat these days, showing how Chinese patients in different locations are receiving intravenous therapy while sitting inside their parked cars.

One of the confirmed places where patients are getting intravenous (IV) infusions in their cars is in Xinyang, Henan province. As the number of positive Covid patients is surging, a local clinic started to treat patients while seated in their car in order to avoid further overcrowding of the clinic.

According to local patients, even those who lined up to get medical help from inside their cars still had to wait for one and a half hours. Pear Video reported that clinic staff said that those without a 24-hour negative nucleic acid test now all had to stay inside their cars and wait in line to receive care.

The ‘drive-through IV therapy’ also received attention on Weibo, where one related hashtag received over 70 million views this week (#诊所爆满市民坐车内输液#).

Some Weibo users also suggested that patients riding cars are privileged, wondering how those Covid-positive patients coming to the clinic without a car can receive treatment.

Another video that was recorded in Xiaogan, Hubei, showed patients sitting on plastic chairs outside a local clinic, getting IVs in the middle of the street.

As videos and images such as are circulating on Chinese social media at a time when many places across the country are seeing their worst Covid outbreak ever, online discussions surfaced on whether there actually is any proof that intravenous therapy is helpful for patients with Covid-19.

One study published by The Lancet (Kan et al, 2015) showed that, compared to the US, Chinese patients are much more likely to seek and receive intravenous infusion treatment driven by a desire for rapid recovery in order to get back to school or work.

One Weibo user commented: “Small clinics love to give patients IV, whether it’s old people or children, they all get put on an IV. Their reasoning is that with IV it’ll take three days, with a shot it’ll take five days, and with oral medications, it’s gonna take a week, so IV is the quickest.”

In China, where IV infusion therapy is widespread, intravenous infusion (输液) generally refers to both fluid infusions and/or medicine-containing ones (antibiotics, Traditional Chinese Medicine, or other medications).

As described in a 2019 study by Zeng et al, there is an “over- and irrational use of IV infusion” in clinics and hospitals across China. This could be considered problematic – not only because redundant treatments are costing patients a lot of money, but also because it is exposing them to unnecessary drug-related side effects (Zeng et al 2019, 1133).

Multiple factors contribute to the irrational use of IV infusions in China. Some clinics are profit-driven and see IV infusions as a way to make more money. Widespread expectations among Chinese patients that IV infusions will make them feel better also play a role, along with some physicians’ lacking knowledge of IV therapy or their uncertainty to distinguish bacterial from viral infections (Wang et al 2020, 2; Zeng et al 2019, 1134).

On Weibo, some commenters point out that IV infusions do help some Covid patients as there are also many people who have underlying medical conditions, aggravating their condition. Oral medication might not reduce their fever, one commenter wrote, and they might become dehydrated and an IV treatment could alleviate their symptoms.

Others share their own experiences regarding their Covid infection and reasons to go to the clinic for an IV infusion. Some bloggers wrote that an ongoing high fever made them want to get IV infusion to provide relief and decrease body temperature. Others expressed the hope that IV fluids could help them get better soon.

There is also a sense of panic and anxiety among many Chinese netizens who just tested positive for the first time. People from various areas across the country write that OTC medications are sold out and that clinics are overflowing with patients. Many posts on social media are about high fever, dizziness, and about generally feeling unwell.

Meanwhile, state media and medical experts are using social media to keep informing patients on what to do if they test positive. Dr. Zhang Wenhong (张文宏), a renowned infectious disease expert, is featured in a popular online video in which he advises people who are now having a fever to keep drinking plenty of water, sleep, eat lots of fruits and make sure they take in enough Vitamine C, drink more water and sleep some more.

Last week, Zhang’s team already claimed that 99.5% of people who test positive do not need to go to the hospital (#张文宏团队称阳性后99.5%的人不必去医院#).

“That still leaves 0.5% or about 6,5 million people, that’s still a lot,” one person commented [0.5% of 1.45 billion people is actually 7.2 million].

“We’ve seen quite an efficient execution over the past two weeks,” one Weibo user wrote: “We went from ‘dynamic zero’ being the goal to being able to self-medicate as the goal today.”

See more of our reports on zero Covid ending here.

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Miranda Barnes


Kan, Jenny, BS, Zhu, Xinxing, MD, Wang, Tieying, MD, Rongzhu Lu, and Spencer, Peter S, Prof [Advisory]. 2015. “Chinese Patient Demand for Intravenous Therapy: a Preliminary Survey.” The Lancet (British Edition) 386: S61–S61.

Wang, Xiaomin, Dan Wu, Ziming Xuan, Weiyi Wang, and Xudong Zhou. 2020. “The Influence of a Ban on Outpatient Intravenous Antibiotic Therapy Among the Secondary and Tertiary Hospitals in China.” BMC Public Health 20 (1): 1794–1794.

Zeng, Shuangshuang, Dong Wang, Wanli Liu, Yuanliang Yan, Minwen Zhu, Zhicheng Gong, and Shusen Sun. 2019. “Overuse of Intravenous Infusions in China: Focusing on Management Platform and Cultural Problems.” International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy 41 (5): 1133–37.


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Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on Contact at, or follow on Twitter.

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China and Covid19

The “Final Round Players” of China’s Covid Outbreak

Those who still haven’t had Covid have made it to the “finals,” but it’s not always easy to stay positive about still testing negative.

Manya Koetse



This Chinese Lunar New Year period, as millions of people are traveling across the country, Hangzhou Daily (杭州日报) posted a video on Weibo of a 13-year-old boy dressed in full protective clothing at the Hangzhou train station.

The young man told the reporter that he was on his way to visit his grandparents for the Chinese New Year. When asked why he was dressed in protective clothing from head to toe, he answered: “Because I haven’t had Covid yet.”

According to the video posted by Hangzhou Daily, the boy has made it to the “Final Rounds” (决赛圈) as he has managed to stay Covid-negative at a time when so many people have already been infected with Covid-19 (#挺进决赛圈的男孩穿防护服坐火车#).

Since China ‘optimized’ the last stringent measures of its ‘Zero Covid’ policy back in early December – including an end to mandatory mass testing, – a wave of Covid infections spread across the country. The number of infections and emergency department visits reportedly reached its peak in late December of 2022 and in early January of 2023.

According to Wu Zunyou (@吴尊友ChinaCDC), chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center of Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of China’s population has now been infected with Covid (“这一波疫情已经使得全国约80%的人感染过”).

As it is getting rarer to come across someone who has not had Covid yet, travelers dressed in full hazmat suits and protective gear are bound to stand out. “So many people on the train, and there are still two people in the crowd wearing protective clothing,” one Weibo user from Guangdong wrote. Others also post photos on social media of some of the few travelers still fully dressed in protective gear.

One blogger photographed a child wearing protective clothing at Chongqing West Station on Jan. 24, calling the protective attire “exaggerated,” and wondering how the child was supposed to go to the toilet.

Photo posted on Weibo by @杨品-光线摄影学院 on Jan 24., 2023.

Traveler wearing protective clothing at Hangzhou East Station, photo by @百鸣老屈.

Hangzhou Daily is not the only media outlet dubbing those who managed to stay negative “final round players” (决赛圈选手). In early January, Beijing Daily (北京日报​​​​) and People’s Daily (人民日报) also published a short article using the same phrase. In the article, the Beijing expert physician Dr. Li Dong (李侗) answered some questions about the so-called ‘finalists.’

According to Dr. Li Dong, some of the people who claim to have managed to stay ‘Covid free’ were never infected due to protective measures. But there are also those who may have actually had Covid-19 without realizing it, as they barely had any symptoms or were completely asymptomatic.

“Final round players, protect yourself!” one Weibo commenter writes: “Who else has managed to reach these finals?”

“As a ‘final player,’ I finally went out to eat and visit the shopping mall today. I’ll have to wait and see if I reach the championship level. If I haven’t caught [Covid], I can go on and lead a normal life; if I did catch it, I’ll need to wait a while, and will also be able to lead a normal life.”

Other persons who did not have Covid yet also share on social media that they went out for the first time during this Spring Festival period: “I cautiously went out and saw my first movie in 2023, Wandering Earth II, I picked a morning screening so that the cinema is not so crowded yet.”

Now that the Covid infections in China have peaked and the number of infected critically ill patients is quickly dropping, the fears over catching Covid are also seemingly fading among those who were not yet infected.

But some people who have not had Covid yet are still being careful, especially if it concerns elderly family members. It’s not always easy to stay positive about still testing negative – also for loved ones who did previously have Covid and want to protect their family.

One Fujian-based social media user writes: “I recovered from Covid and I’m spending the Spring Festival with three ‘final round players.’ We’ve been stuck inside the house for days. I’ve been looking at the lanterns and the lights in the neighborhood, watching them from the balcony, and I really wanted to go down and see.”

“Looking at WeChat Moments, all my friends are out traveling, but my family still hasn’t had Covid and we’re afraid to go out,” another netizen writes: “It’s sad to celebrate the New Year without going out. Guess we’re final-round players now, let’s hope it brings good things.”

Meanwhile, the group of ‘finalists’ is still shrinking. One Weibo user from Guangxi wrote: “I’ve left the finalist circle. It’s only been two days since I returned to my hometown and I’m already infected.”

By Manya Koetse 

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China and Covid19

Video Shows Real-Time “Departure” Information Board at Chinese Crematorium

From “cremation in process” to “cooling down,” the digital display shows the progress of the cremation to provide information to those waiting in the lobby. The crematorium ‘departure’ board strikes a chord with many.

Manya Koetse



A video showing a live display screen announcing the names and status of the deceased at a Yunnan crematorium has been making its rounds on Chinese social media, from WeChat to Weibo, where one version of the video received over 1,7 million views.

Somewhat similar to a real-time platform departure display on train stations, the screen shows the waiting number of the deceased person, their name, gender, the name of the lounge/room (if any) for families, the name of the crematorium chamber, and the status of the cremation process. Below in the screen, it says “the final journey of a warm life” (温暖人生的最后旅程).

For example, the screen displays the names of a Mr. Chen and a Mr. Li; their bodies were in the process of being cremated (火化中), while other cremations were marked as “completed” (完成) or “cooling down” (降温中).

Through such a screen, located in the crematorium lobby, family members and loved ones can learn about the progress of the cremation of the deceased.

The video, recorded by a local on Jan. 7, received many comments. Among them, some people commented on the information board itself, while others simply expressed grief over those who died and the fragility of life. Many felt the display was confronting and it made them emotional.

“It makes me really sad that this how people’s lives end,” one commenter said, with another person replying that the display also shows you still need to wait in line even when you’re dead.

“I didn’t expect the screens [in the crematorium] to be like those in hospitals, where patients are waiting for their turn,” another Weibo user wrote. “It would be better if the names were hidden, like in the hospitals, to protect the privacy of the deceased,” another person replied.

Others shared their own experiences at funeral parlors also using such information screens.

Another ‘departure display’ at a Chinese crematorium, image shared by Weibo user.

“My grandfather passed away last September, and when we were at the undertaker’s, the display was also jumping from one name to the other and we could only comfort ourselves knowing that he was among those who lived a relatively long life.”

“Such a screen, it really makes me sad,” another commenter from Guangxi wrote, with others writing: “It’s distressing technology.”

Although the information screen at the crematorium is a novelty for many commenters, the phenomenon itself is not necessarily related to the Covid outbreak and the number of Covid-related deaths; some people share how they have seen them in crematoriums before, and funeral parlor businesses have used them to provide information to families since at least 2018.

According to an article published by Sohu News, more people – especially younger ones – have visited a funeral home for the first time in their lives recently due to the current Covid wave, also making it the first time for them to come across such a digital display.

The online video of such an information board has made an impact at a time when crematoriums are crowded and families report waiting for days to bury or cremate their loved ones, with especially a large number of elderly people dying due to Covid.

On Jan. 4, one social media user from Liaoning wrote:

I really suggest that the experts go to the crematoriums to take a look. There is no place to put the deceased, they’re parked outside in temporary containers, there’s no time left to hold a farewell ceremony and you can only directly cremate, and for those who were able to have a ceremony, they need to finish within ten minutes (..) At the funeral parlor’s big screen, there were eight names on every page, and there were ten pages for all the people in line that day, I stood there for half an hour and didn’t see the name of the person I was waiting for pop up anymore.”

As the video of the display in the crematorium travels around the internet, many commenters suggest that it is not necessarily the real-time ‘departure’ board itself that bothers them, but how it shows the harsh reality of death by listing the names of the deceased and their cremation status behind it. Perhaps it is the contrast between the technology of the digital display boards and the reality of the human vulnerability that it represents that strikes a chord with people.

One blogger who reposted the video on Jan. 13 wrote: “Life is short, cherish the present, let’s cherish what we have and love yourself, love your family, and love this world.” Among dozens of replies, some indicate that the video makes them feel uncomfortable.

Another commenter also wrote:

I just saw a video that showed an electronic display at a crematorium, rolling out the names of the deceased and the stage of the cremation. One name represents the ending of a life. And it just hit me, and my tears started flowing. I’m afraid of parting, I’m afraid of loss, I just want the people I love and who love me to stay by my side forever. I don’t want to leave. I’m afraid I’ll be alone one day, and that nobody will ever make me feel warm again.”

One person captured why the information board perhaps causes such unease: “The final moments that people still spent on this earth take place on the electronic screen in the memorial hall of the funeral home. Then, they are gone without a sound.”


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By Manya Koetse 
with contributions by Zilan Qian

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2023 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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