One report claimed that hospitals told patients to bring their own bed due to shortage
By Peter Aitken
As COVID-19 infections spread across the nation and strain the public health sectors’ resources, a Beijing hospital has run out of beds, forcing patients to rest on stretchers or lie on the hallway floors.
Before Christmas, a healthcare worker in Beijing Chaoyang Hospital’s emergency room told the Financial Times, “We have no beds, no oxygen, and a room full of sick people waiting.”
China has watched as COVID-19 cases increased after the country’s “zero-COVID” policy was abruptly reversed, despite no increase in vaccination rates. Instead, officials attempted to bolster hospitals by opening hundreds of “fever clinics” to increase testing in preparation for a new COVID-19 wave.
The Chuiyangliu hospital in eastern Beijing was crowded with recent arrivals and unable to properly sequester them on January 5, a sign that the hospitals were unprepared for just how significant the wave ultimately turned out to be.
One report even suggested that hospitals have told patients to “bring your own bed” due to the shortage.
Pictures from the Associated Press show old women bent over with oxygen masks in the hallways as they wait for triage from doctors.
Dr. Marc Siegel, professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, told Fox News Digital that the resulting wave of COVID-19 infections show that the “zero-COVID” strategy “clearly backfired.”
“As soon as they released [the policy], there was rampant spread of a highly contagious subvariant, XBB, and high risk of a new, more dangerous variant emerging,” Siegel said. “China stuck with their own vaccines, which are inferior to ours, and there hasn’t been much recent vaccine uptake, so the vaccines have mostly worn off.”
He added that China’s “vulnerable populations have poor vaccine uptake, leading to hospitalization and death.”
Latest estimates indicate that deaths could rise from 9,000 a day to as many as 25,000 a day in January — a stark contrast to the astronomically low 5,227 deaths prior to the end of “zero-COVID” in comparison to the total population, even though Siegel said that “we can’t rely on [China’s] numbers.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) raised concerns about China’s lack of transparency regarding its current situation, with Emergencies Director Dr. Michael Ryan arguing that China’s current figures “under-represent the true impact of the disease in terms of hospital admissions, in terms of ICU admissions and particularly in terms of deaths,” British newspaper the Evening Standard reported.
As COVID-19 cases continued to spread, China changed its criteria for key data reporting, mainly what qualifies as a COVID-related death — limited to deaths caused by respiratory failure and pneumonia — and ceased to report asymptomatic cases.
President Joe Biden said that China had been “very sensitive” when the U.S. and WHO raised concerns that officials “haven’t been forthcoming.” The U.S., along with several other nations, imposed testing requirements for travelers from China, with Morocco outright banning any arrivals from the country.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters on Thursday, “Facts have proved that China has always, in accordance with the principles of legality, timeliness, openness and transparency, maintained close communication and shared relevant information and data with the WHO in a timely manner.”
“At the moment, China’s COVID situation is under control. As China adjusts its COVID response policy, we will continue to carry out activities, including technical exchanges with the WHO,” Mao said during a press briefing. “It is hoped that the WHO Secretariat will take a science-based, objective and just position and play a positive role in addressing the pandemic globally.”
Mao also stated that “the COVID situation in China is under control,” but pictures coming out of China tell a different story as they show an increase in street cremations as the number of fatalities and bodies fill funeral homes.
According to the New York Post, two videos posted to Twitter show families gathered around a cremation in a parking lot in the middle of a city and a wooden coffin burning on the side of what appears to be a road in rural China.
As one funeral home handled more than 500 corpses—five times the usual number—Bloomberg reported that funeral homes can’t afford to give families more than 10 minutes to grieve in a room full of bodies on stretchers before moving on.
One family remarked that they were “lucky” that it was winter because they had to wait for the Shanghai funeral home to pick up their relative’s body for five days.
According to a Longhua Funeral Home employee who spoke to Bloomberg, “the whole system is paralyzed right now.”