A couple in Wuhan has symptoms of the novel coronavirus but they were turned away by five hospitals. Due to limited resources, the hospitals in the city only accept patients who have a confirmed diagnosis, and the couple said that more than 1,000 people are currently waiting to be tested.
Ji Lin is a high school teacher. Her husband had a low-grade fever on Jan. 20. He thought it was a cold and took some medicine. It wasn’t until Jan. 23, when the Wuhan Mayor announced that the city was under quarantine, that the couple realized that he might have the coronavirus.
Shortly after the lockdown began, all major hospitals in Wuhan were crowded with people who had a fever and were seeking diagnosis and treatment.
Chinese state media called on all patients who exhibit mild symptoms to stay at home, in isolation from other family members, so as to avoid infecting others at home or at the hospitals. Ji’s husband followed the advice and continued to self-medicate at home.
On Jan. 30, he became lethargic, started coughing, and had an accelerated heartbeat. He went to Wuhan Puren Hospital for a CT scan, which showed fluid in both lungs. His CRP index (C-reactive protein index), an indicator of inflammation, was at an alarmingly high level. The next morning, he had difficulty breathing and his blood oxygen level dropped to 80. On the same day, Ji, who had been taking care of her husband, noticed she also felt unwell.
Rejected by Five Hospitals
Ji’s niece told the Chinese-language Epoch Times that Ji and her husband went to five hospitals on Jan. 30: “They went to Union Hospital, Tongji Hospital, Puai Hospital, and Puguang Hospital. None of the hospitals would take their blood for diagnostic testing. They were told the supply of test kits was low and that they were considered to be suspected cases of Wuhan pneumonia. Hospitals will not give a patient a hospital bed if he hasn’t been confirmed through testing. The patient has to isolate himself at home,” she said.
She further described the difficulties faced by patients rejected by hospitals. Over-the-counter medicines can’t repress the fever, and it would be better to get comprehensive treatment at a hospital.
“In Wuhan, public transportation is not available. My aunt and uncle went to community hospitals where they were told they would be put on a waiting list. We then called 110 [China’s emergency phone center], the line was busy for a long time. When the call was finally answered, the operator asked: ‘Which hospital do you plan to go to? Have you made an appointment? We can’t help you with transportation if you haven’t made an appointment.’ My aunt and uncle found themselves in a Catch 22.”
According to Ji’s niece, there are only ten hospitals in Wuhan that have the diagnostic testing kits.
“More than 1,000 patients are waiting for the testing, but these hospitals only make about 100 kits available each day. As a result, most patients who have similar symptoms are considered to be suspected cases. I believe 80 to 90 percent of those unconfirmed patients are Wuhan pneumonia patients,” she said.
Ji’s niece also revealed that Union Hospital recently had six hospital beds available, but they were immediately taken by medical personnel in the hospital, because they have already been infected from the patients.
In other hospitals, patients need two qualifications to be admitted—a confirmed diagnosis, and a document from the patient’s community hospital stating he or she is in serious condition, she explained.
Wuhan Is Like a ‘Ghost Town’
Ji’s sister also spoke to the Chinese-language Epoch Times about the overall situation in Wuhan: “The entire city is like a ghost town, a death town. Take a look at the hospital reception areas and you will see how horrendous the situation is. So many patients. Many are receiving intravenous fluids,” she said. “I have personally heard of many deaths. My brother-in-law’s cousin passed away a few days ago. Many elderly people have died of this disease.”
In a video released on Jan. 30 and posted on Twitter, a man with a Wuhan dialect shared his story as he sat outside his community office. He was obviously short of breath as he talked.
“My mother was hospitalized before the Chinese New Year (Jan. 25). I was diagnosed and confirmed yesterday, and I am home alone. As you all know, there is no public transportation in Wuhan. I came to the community office to consult with someone on how they can help me get to a hospital. Then, when I went to use the restroom, they locked the office door, which locked out all those who need their help,” he said.
According to the guidelines issued by Wuhan Health Commission, community hospitals and offices have the obligation to help those who may be infected with the virus.
— Ray Lau (@fiteray) January 30, 2020
In another video shared on Twitter, a woman cried beside the body of her husband who had just passed away in a hospital hallway: “Come find out what’s happening in Hankou Hospital. The hospital refused to admit him and refused to provide him with decent treatment. He has been receiving an intravenous drip here (in the hallway), and just now he died.”
命如螻蟻 武漢三鎮和湖北大地，冤死的白骨比比皆是，視頻里大姐絕望與無助聲音刺痛了我的眼角，共匪我問候你全家十八層地獄千刀萬剮。 pic.twitter.com/4UxrpTk5Ms
— 界立建 (@lijian92537131) February 1, 2020