China grapples with massive COVID wave with full emergency rooms and overcrowded crematoria: “Many people are dying”

China’s ongoing struggle with a COVID surge has completely destroyed the country’s healthcare infrastructure, particularly in Hebei Province.

Hospitals in Baoding and Langfang have been forced to turn away ambulances and sick patients seeking treatment, while health administrations have had to treat patients in overloaded intensive care units on benches or on the floor, officials said.

“I don’t have much hope,” said Yao Ruyan, whose elderly mother-in-law is in urgent need of medical care after contracting the coronavirus. However, Yao could not find a hospital with space to treat her, the Associated Press reported.

“They say there are no beds here,” she told AP reporters outside a fever clinic in China’s Hebei province.

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Yao and her husband said they encountered the same reaction in every hospital: there is no room for another patient. After the family went to Zhuozhou Hospital, an hour’s drive from Yao’s hometown, the reaction was the same.

“I’m angry,” a tearful Yao added. “We’ve been out late and I’m scared because she’s having trouble breathing.”

And the problem isn’t just for Yao.

An intensive care unit at Baoding No. 2 Hospital in Zhuozhou was so overcrowded that a medical staffer instructed people wheeling in a patient from an oncoming ambulance to seek treatment elsewhere.

“There is no oxygen or electricity in this corridor!” yelled the worker, the Associated Press reported. “If you can’t even give him oxygen, how can you save him?”

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“If you don’t want any delays, turn around and hop off quickly!” added the worker.

The region’s crematoria have repeated similar complaints.

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At the Zhuozhou crematorium, furnaces are burning around the clock as workers struggle to keep up with a spike in deaths, an Associated Press staffer said.

A funeral home worker said they burned 20 to 30 bodies a day, down from just three or four before the Chinese government dramatically eased COVID-related restrictions on Dec. 7.

“So many people have died,” said Zhao Yongsheng, a funeral director. “They work day and night, but they cannot burn them all.”

An ambulance prepares to transfer a patient in intensive care to other hospitals due to overcapacity at the emergency department of Langfang No.4 People's Hospital in Bazhou city, north China's Hebei Province, Thursday, December 22, 2022.

An ambulance prepares to transfer a patient in intensive care to other hospitals due to overcapacity at the emergency department of Langfang No.4 People’s Hospital in Bazhou city, north China’s Hebei Province, Thursday, December 22, 2022.
(AP photo)

Funeral homes in China’s capital were also overcrowded, leaving some people traveling for hours to find someone to cremate their deceased.

“They said we had to wait 10 days,” said a local resident identified only by the last name Liang.

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The Chinese government has reported just seven COVID-19 deaths since restrictions were eased on Dec. 7, but without a solution to provide prompt and adequate supplies, China’s outlook in the fight against COVID looks bleak.

China’s officially reported death toll from COVID since the global outbreak began in the final months of 2019 is just 5,241. For comparison, the official death toll in the United States is over 1.1 million.

A man pulls a cloth to cover the face of an elderly woman whose bowels are drained as emotional relatives silently gather around her for a final goodbye before her body is taken to the emergency room of the No. 4 People's Hospital in Langfang in of Bazhou city, north China's Hebei province on Thursday December 22, 2022.

A man pulls a cloth to cover the face of an elderly woman whose bowels are drained as emotional relatives silently gather around her for a final goodbye before her body is taken to the emergency room of the No. 4 People’s Hospital in Langfang in of Bazhou city, north China’s Hebei province on Thursday December 22, 2022.
(AP photo)

Modeling suggests large numbers of people will continue to become infected and die across Beijing and the rest of China.

Experts have forecast that China will eventually see one million to two million deaths over the next year, and the World Health Organization said Beijing’s way of counting deaths from COVID has allowed the country to “underestimate the true death toll.” .

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A Chinese health official said just Tuesday that China counts only deaths from pneumonia or respiratory arrest in its official COVID death count, ignoring deaths attributed to COVID BS, which are counted by countries using a broader definition .

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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