Residents in Wuhan City, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, are pleading for help as the city’s overwhelmed healthcare system cannot accommodate sick patients.
Though authorities freed up almost 10,000 hospital beds in Wuhan, many coronavirus patients have not been able to receive hospital treatment, according to eyewitness accounts. Some were forced to wait in the cold for hours lining up in front of hospitals.
Chinese authorities have reported tens of thousands of infections and over 900 deaths, but expert analysis and first-hand accounts from Wuhan suggest the true number of infections and death toll is far higher than officially reported.
The Epoch Times recently spoke to staff and officials at five Wuhan funeral homes, who reported increases in their intake, suggesting that more people are dying of the disease than officially reported.
Waiting in the Cold
The Rens, a couple living in the Jiang’an district of Wuhan, are both diagnosed with the coronavirus. But the husband’s condition was more severe.
“My husband has had a fever for more than 10 days. We tried all different channels, but they [hospitals and officials] asked us to wait,” Mrs. Ren told the Chinese-language Epoch Times on Feb. 8.
“The only treatment we receive is one injection in the hospital every day,” Mrs. Ren said. “We go to the hospital by ourselves. We have to stand for several hours to wait in line.”
On Feb. 7 evening, the hospital informed the couple that the husband can be treated at a makeshift hospital set up at the Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Center. They quickly packed their bags and arrived there.
“We waited hours outside the front door. After 1 a.m. on Feb. 8, the staff said my husband’s blood oxygen content was too low, and the hospital could not take him in [because they couldn’t treat him],” Mrs. Ren cried.
Mrs. Ren said that they had heard of poor conditions at the makeshift facilities, but had hoped that they could at least receive some basic treatment.
Both eventually had no choice but to return home.
Buses Picking Up Patients
The Shaos live in the Hankou district of Wuhan. Mr. Shao was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Jan. 29, but could not receive treatment because all hospitals were full.
“In the beginning, my husband had mild symptoms. His situation got worse and worse due to the lack of treatment,” Mrs. Shao told the Chinese-language Epoch Times on Feb. 8.
On Feb. 7, Mr. Shao was informed that he could finally receive treatment at a hospital and the driver would pick him up from his home.
“[The hospital] told us that a driver would pick him up at 4 p.m., and asked him to wait beside the road. But nobody appeared until after 6 p.m. A big bus picked him up, and then picked another 30 patients or so on the way to the hospital,” Mrs. Shao said.
“At 10 p.m., [my husband] told me that he was still waiting inside the bus because there were several buses [in front of his] full of patients waiting [to be hospitalized],” Mrs. Shao said.
The Zhangs live in Jiang’an district in Wuhan. The mother, father, and daughter are infected with the virus.
Hospitals in the area were full and could not accommodate her mother, said Ms. Zhang in an interview with The Epoch Times. However, the Hankou Hospital said it could provide injections for her mother’s treatment.
Beginning on Jan. 25, Zhang took her mother to Hankou Hospital by electric bike, as there was no public transportation after the city was under lockdown.
On Feb. 2, the mother’s condition deteriorated. As she was too sick to move, the daughter accompanied her as she slept on the bench at the Hankou Hospital, waiting every night.
She passed away on the morning of Feb. 5.
The father and daughter were moved to different quarantine centers on the evening of Feb. 8.
Zhang said many patients cannot be hospitalized due to the lack of space. Their only option is to camp out at the hospital—often sleeping on the floor due to the large numbers of people waiting—hoping for a bed to be freed up, she said.
Mrs. Chen is from Qiaokou district in Wuhan. She told The Epoch Times that in her family of six, only her father has not been infected.
“I’m racing against time,” Mrs. Chen said. She herself is also infected, but she was trying her best to find a hospital bed for her mother, the one in the most severe condition.
The Huoshenshan Hospital was quickly built after the outbreak in order to accommodate the growing numbers of patients. On Feb. 3, it began operations as a facility dedicated to treating patients in critical condition. All working staff are from the Chinese military.
On Feb. 8, an anonymous netizen posted photos, which he claimed to be from the Huoshenshan Hospital, onto the 4Chan social media platform. He said he was a lab technician at the Huoshenshan hospital. In order to prove his identity, he published a photo, where someone in a lab glove is holding a note with the date written on it.
He wrote in his post, “The situation is so much worse than you know. Reported deaths of coronavirus are just those of sudden type, not pneumonic.”
He said staff move out patients from 200 to 400 rooms every day, but it’s unclear where the patients are sent to. According to the hospital’s design, two patients live in one room.
“99% of pneumonic [patients] have left, not to return,” he wrote. “Fever sudden death near 30%, and no symptom but diagnose 5 – 10% rate.”
His identity and the information in his post could not be independently verified.