Beijing Authorities Add Beds in Hospitals as Virus Reaches Community Spread

June 24, 2020 Updated: June 25, 2020

Beijing health authorities are requiring that hospitals prepare additional beds in anticipation of a surge in COVID-19 patients, according to a series of city government internal documents obtained by The Epoch Times.

The city has experienced a second wave outbreak, with local authorities confirming that 256 people have been infected with the CCP virus since June 11.

Some of the newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients did not visit the Xinfadi food market, which authorities have attributed as the source of the new outbreak, or come into contact with infected individuals—indicating that there is now community spread in the capital.

Authorities claim that all diagnosed patients are currently being treated at the Beijing Ditan Hospital. But the leaked documents show that the city is preparing for an influx of COVID-19 patients at several other hospitals.

Community Spread

Zeng Xiaofan, director of Beijing municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announced at a June 23 press conference that a 47-year-old food delivery man who works for a popular meal ordering platform was diagnosed on June 21.

The delivery man was sent to the hospital after developing a fever on the morning of June 21. Prior to that, he was working 12 to 14 hours per day, Zeng said.

The delivery man took about 50 orders per day, picking up food packages from restaurants, supermarkets, and stores, Zeng added. The man traveled on his scooter in an area about 40 square miles in central and southeastern Beijing.

The delivery man did not go to the area where Xinfadi market is located in recent weeks. Authorities have not explained where or how he contracted the virus.

Since June 21, several COVID-19 patients have not visited the Xinfadi market, or contacted any previous diagnosed patient.

The city-government-operated newspaper Beijing Daily alerted people in an June 23 article: “right now, one of the most important tasks to prevent the virus from spreading is to be vigilant about community infection.”

On June 23, Pepsi’s chips factory located in the city announced three more diagnosed employees. PepsiCo China announced that there are now a total of 12 employees from that factory diagnosed with COVID-19.

The company has now closed the factory, and isolated 480 employees. According to China’s enterprise database Tianyancha, there are 869 employees at that factory; it is unclear what happened with the other roughly 380 staff.

Epoch Times Photo
A Chinese doctor gives instruction to nurses in protective suits before performing nucleic acid swab tests for COVID-19 on citizens at a government testing site in Beijing, China on June 22, 2020. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Cluster Outbreak in Hospitals?

On June 19, the city government announced that a nurse who works at the emergency department of Peking University International Hospital was diagnosed with the virus on June 18.

Since then, the hospital stopped taking new patients and launched a lockdown policy.

After the nurse’s diagnosis, health officials are now on high alert about the potential for virus spread.

The Epoch Times obtained an “emergency notice” released by the Daxing district (one of 16 districts in the city) health commission on June 19, in which the commission ordered all hospitals in the district to report that day whether they received any patients who were previously treated at the Peking University International Hospital.

If they don’t have any such patients, they need to report zero. If they did, they must “manage and control the patients immediately,” according to the document.

Hospital facilities would need to isolate such patients from others and medical staff should treat them as suspected COVID-19 patients who can spread the virus to others, the document noted.

Another document, which contained a series of daily meeting summaries released by the Pinggu district government, showed that on June 21, Zhang Tian, an official from the district health commission, ordered all hospitals in Pinggu district to investigate and report whether any of their employees or patients had visited Peking University International Hospital in the past 14 days.

Epoch Times Photo
Residents who visited or live near Xinfadi Market line up for a nucleic acid test in Beijing, China on June 19, 2020. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Makeshift Units

The Epoch Times previously obtained classified documents that urged local governments to treat all pandemic-related documents as “state secrets.”

A new document, issued by the Beijing municipal health commission on June 13, similarly emphasized that each district government had to keep secret all virus data and could not publicize or leak the information before getting approval from the health commission.

Meanwhile, in another meeting summary on June 20, Jin Daqing, director of the Pinggu district health commission, ordered the Pinggu Hospital and Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine Pinggu branch to set up makeshift units dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients. The document only used the Chinese characters “fangcang” and did not specify whether these would be additional beds inside the hospital or new mobile facilities.

Jin also ordered the Yuexie Hospital, located in the district, to set up a makeshift laboratory for running nucleic acid testing on samples.

Then, on June 21, Jin ordered district health officials and hospital officials to help set up makeshift units at the Yuexie Hospital, Huici Hospital, and Jinggu Friendship Hospital.

Each “fangcang” should purchase at least 16 CT scanners as soon as possible, with a budget of 2 million yuan ($283,300) for each scanner, according to the document.

Volunteers from Blue Sky Rescue team disinfect the Yuegezhuang wholesale market in Beijing
Volunteers in protective suits disinfect the Yuegezhuang wholesale market, following new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in Beijing, China on June 16, 2020. (China Daily via Reuters)

Underreporting

Since the virus first broke out in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, local authorities have been opaque with virus information and intentionally underreported cases.

Zhang Bo (pseudonym), who lives in a military compound for officers and their families located in Beijing’s Haidian district, told the Chinese-language Epoch Times in a June 23 phone interview that three residents at a nearby compound were recently diagnosed with COVID-19. All were male between 45 to 50 years old, he said.

Zhang lives close to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) General Hospital, also called the PLA 301 Hospital. Several hundred military compounds are situated in that neighborhood.

“Schools [in the neighborhood] notified students to study at home,” Zhang said. “I also received notification from the compound [I live in] to avoid going to other compounds where residents have been diagnosed or identified as close contacts of the diagnosed patients.”

Zhang shared the notification with The Epoch Times, which listed over 100 military compounds in Haidian district.

The Epoch Times could not independently verify the information Zhang provided.

Epoch Times Photo
A near-deserted expressway is seen in Beijing, China after the CCP virus outbreak in the city in recent weeks on June 20, 2020. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)

Escalating Outbreak

Chinese state-run media recently quoted local officials to claim that the Beijing outbreak is now under control.

But Guo Yanhong, ombudswoman at the medical administration of China’s National Health Commission, announced at a June 24 press conference that 20 medical teams from 12 provinces have traveled to Beijing to help perform nucleic acid testing on residents.

Guo did not say how many people were in each medical team. But she said Hubei Province sent three medical teams to Beijing, with the first two groups totaling 416 medical staff.

China’s Ministry of Transportation (MOT) also announced that it would now place restrictions on people who travel out of Beijing.

MOT spokesman Sun Wenjian said at a June 23 press conference that all individuals who wish to leave Beijing must have a green health code on their mobile app and a negative nucleic acid test result that was taken within the past seven days. The rule applies to all travelers, whether they are going by plane, train, or private vehicle.

Sun also announced that all taxi services and car-pool services in Beijing and neighboring cities would be prohibited from leaving or entering Beijing. People can only take taxis to travel within the city.