As China eases COVID rules shoppers look for canned peaches to help

Chinese shoppers are scrambling to get their hands on one unexpected grocery item, as the government scales back a number of its COVID-19 restrictions.

No, shoppers aren’t fighting over rolls of toilet paper.

Rather, they’re stockpiling cans and jars of yellow peaches – believed by many to be a COVID home remedy.

It’s unclear how exactly the peach hysteria began, but supermarkets are struggling to keep up with overwhelming demand for the Chinese delicacy.

The Chinese government has begun warning against consuming canned peaches as a COVID cure.

“Prevent the pandemic with science, do not be misled by these rumours,” the state media-run People’s Daily said in a Weibo post.

A hospital deputy director from the Shaanxi province told the publication that the peaches were more like a tasty “placebo”, rather than actual medicine for fevers and coughs.

Beijing Youth Daily, which is run by the Communist Youth League of China, said that canned peaches have “no practical value in curing diseases”.

Dalian Leasun Food, one of the country’s largest canned food producers, also issued its own statement.

“Canned yellow peaches ≠ medicines!” the company said on Weibo.

“There is enough supply, so there is no need to panic. There is no rush to buy.”

Why peaches?

Canned peaches have gained popularity in China largely for their shelf life, which makes them the ideal item to keep stocked-up long-term.

They are also apparently oozing with Vitamin C – which has long been thought to boost the immune system and help with colds and flu.

A 2013 study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that canned peaches hold almost four times the amount of Vitamin C than fresh peaches.

However, according to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), there is “no robust scientific evidence” to support the use of Vitamin C in the management of COVID-19.

China’s peach hysteria echoes the obsession in the US with oranges and orange juice in the early days of the pandemic, also for their Vitamin C benefits.

canned peaches

Chinese shoppers have a newfound obsession with canned peaches. Photo: Getty

COVID chaos

Pain-relief medications, vitamins and electrolytes are also reportedly flying off shelves as Chinese residents adjust to the government’s revamped COVID rules.

After months of protests over strict pandemic rules, the Chinese government decided last week to roll back a number of pandemic policies.

People with the virus are now allowed to quarantine from home, given they have mild to moderate symptoms.

The government has also ceased to report asymptomatic cases and dropped numerous testing requirements, fuelling fears that large numbers of cases are going under the radar.

This comes as photos emerge of lengthy queues outside fever clinics around the country, with the number of patients waiting to be admitted reportedly on the rise.

Many experts have also expressed concerns that the nation is ill-prepared to simultaneously drop so many pandemic measures.

A large chunk of the nation’s elderly population were vaccinated too long ago to still have sufficient protection against the disease, some argue.

Only 69 per cent of Chinese aged 60-plus and 30 per cent of over-80s have received COVID booster shots, Bloomberg reports.

Analysis from London-based research firm Airfinity states China is risking between 1.3 and 2.1 million deaths if it ends its zero-COVID strategy altogether.

World Health Organisation (WHO) spokeswoman Margaret Harris warned in a press conference on Tuesday that China faced a “very tough and difficult time” dismantling its rigid pandemic policies.

“It’s always very difficult for any country coming out of a situation where you’ve had very, very tight controls,” she said.

“We’ve always said before: Don’t go into lockdown too easily and too quickly because it’s really, really hard to come out.”

WHO executive director Mike Ryan knocked back suggestions that China’s policy changes were the reason for rising cases.

“There’s a narrative at the moment that China lifted the restrictions and all of a sudden the disease is out of control,” he said.

“The disease was spreading intensively because I believe the control measures in themselves were not stopping the disease. And I believe China decided strategically that was not the best option anymore.”

-with AAP and Reuters

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