At least three Chinese cities have restricted the sale of over-the-counter cough and fever medications in a bid to stop citizens potentially infected with the novel coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, from self-medicating and instead seek professional help.
So far, the restrictions apply to pharmacies in the cities of Beijing, Hangzhou and Shenzhen, The Washington Post reported, noting drugstores are asked to register the “real names and identity numbers” for anyone who buys such products.
But some of the cities’ residents on the social media platform Weibo expressed concerns about the new policy, according to Quartz. Those who may be sick with a cold or flu could be exposed to the pneumonia-like illness by taking a trip to a hospital, many of which are already overloaded with coronavirus patients, some people argued.
“Is this policy reasonable? People could originally resolve the illnesses with drugs instead of going to hospitals to grab already stretched medical resources and being infected by others who have the virus,” one Weibo user reportedly said on the social media site, the outlet reported.
“The government told us before if we only have a cold or fever we should not go to the hospital to avoid being infected by the virus. But now it stopped the sale of the drugs, allowing us ordinary people to be caught in between,” said another Weibo user, according to Quartz.
As of Wednesday, the novel virus has claimed some 1,113 lives. More than 44,000 people have been infected globally. The majority of deaths have occurred in China, where the outbreak began in the city of Wuhan.