• Thu. Sep 28th, 2023

“Died Too Soon”: China’s Hospitals Overflow Due to Covid Surge

ByJosh Taylor

Dec 23, 2022

“Died, deceased,” an employee in full safety gear said as she gave a death certificate to a nurse at their hospital in central China, which was overflowing with Covid patients.
China is dealing with a surge of illnesses that has disproportionately affected the elderly, although the government has officially recorded just a few deaths from the corona virus after redefining the criteria by which Covid deaths are registered.
When AFP visited No. 5 People’s Hospital in Chongqing on Friday, the main entry lobby had been turned into a makeshift Covid ward.
A dozen beds in the enormous atrium, mostly occupied by elderly patients on IV drips, were blocked off with red and white tape.
In an adjoining room, some 40 patients, largely old and middle-aged, sat on sofas and laid on beds getting IV infusions, some coughing.
According to a nurse, they all had Covid.
Three individuals lie on beds hooked to respirators and cardiac monitoring devices in an intensive care unit next door.
An old guy on a stretcher was pushed in, wheezing and straining to breathe.
Around 50 individuals lined for triage at the emergency department, including Covid patients, with one person at the front of the line telling AFP they had been waiting for more than an hour.
Another medium-sized hospital in downtown Chongqing’s emergency department was likewise overcrowded, with roughly 30 elderly individuals linked to IV drips crammed amid beds and chairs.
Several were wearing respirators and had pulse oxymeters strapped to their fingertips.
A cleaning and a nurse at the first hospital told AFP that there had been several deaths every day since the government’s abrupt move to ease health regulations and halt mass testing at the beginning of the month.
It was unclear if all of the deaths were caused by the virus.
‘Died too soon’
AFP went to a crematorium in the city’s south on Thursday evening and observed 40 remains being unloaded in two hours.
Several of the deceased’s family claimed that Covid was to blame for their deaths.
One woman stated that her elderly relative, who was suffering from cold symptoms, tested negative but died after they were unable to obtain an examination.
A lady in her twenties informed AFP that her father died of Covid, albeit he had not been tested.
“He died too soon, on the way to the hospital,” she wailed. “To begin with, he had lung problems… He was only 69 years old.”
Only those who die of respiratory failure, rather than pre-existing diseases aggravated by the virus, are counted under China’s revised definition of Covid fatalities.
As a result, many of the deceased in Chongqing – and throughout the country – are no longer being documented as corona virus victims.
On Friday, the cleaner at the first hospital’s ICU told AFP that the majority of the patients were elderly.
“Look,” he remarked, motioning to a spot where a bed had been a short time ago.

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