Beijing death toll rises as Covid sweeps through Chinese capital

Evidence of a wave of deaths from Covid-19 is beginning to emerge in Beijing despite official counts showing no deaths since an uncontrolled outbreak began to sweep through the Chinese capital this week.

Staff at a Beijing crematorium said they cremated the bodies of at least 30 COVID-19 Victims on Wednesday and Financial Times reporters saw two body bags at a special hospital designated for coronavirus patients.

“We cremated 150 bodies [on Wednesday], many times more than a typical day last winter,” said an employee at the Beijing Dongjiao State Funeral Home who asked not to be named. “Thirty or 40 had covid.”

“We are doing it as quickly as possible. [and] prioritizing deaths from Covid ”, added the employee. “We are going to incinerate them the same day they are brought in.”

Chinese authorities have not reported any covid-related deaths nationwide since December 4. But staff at two Beijing crematoriums said overall deaths were much higher than normal as the capital is engulfed by its first significant coronavirus outbreak.

The two body bags were visible in a room off the lobby of Shuangqiao Hospital, which has been designated for Covid patients. An 86-year-old Covid patient in a wheelchair was struggling to keep his eyes open in a hallway. The man’s relatives, who asked not to be named, said he had stopped eating shortly after contracting the virus four days earlier.

At Chui Yang Liu Hospital, which treats covid and non-covid patients, four bodies on gurneys were covered in white cloth and pushed to the side of the emergency room on Thursday night. “Some had [Covid] and some don’t,” said an emergency room doctor.

FT reporters saw another man on the floor in an airless driveway on Thursday but were unable to confirm if he had covid.

By Friday morning, the man, who appeared to be in his 60s, was still lying in the same spot looking extremely pale. A small group of people carrying a coffin out the door said it contained the body of a relative who had died of covid.

The virus is sweeping through the Chinese capital just a week after authorities abandoned zero-Covid checks across the country with little advance warning, leaving many Beijing residents struggling to find medicine and access medical care. The surge is pushing the healthcare system to its limits, with medical workers in the capital being asked to stay on the job even if they are infected.

China National Health Commission stopped providing total Covid case counts on Wednesday and has not reported any deaths in the country since Dec. 4, when the top medical body recorded two deaths in Shandong and Sichuan provinces a day earlier.

But on Thursday at Beijing’s Dongjiao Funeral Home, a line of black vans carrying coffins and cars full of mourners meandered through the packed parking lot. A driver who did not want to be named said he and his colleagues collectively brought in 20 to 30 bodies a day, compared to four or five on a typical day.

A Beijing resident, Wei Yansu, said her grandmother died this week in neighboring Hebei province four days after she was diagnosed with covid. “She got infected during this wave of the outbreak and it caused her to have a stroke,” Wei said.

Signs posted around the Tongzhou Funeral Home in Beijing’s eastern suburbs said the facility had begun limiting the number of bodies it could take from people registered outside the district since last Sunday due to “furnace maintenance.”

Both crematoriums referred questions to Beijing’s civil affairs department, which did not respond to a request for comment. PorcelainThe Beijing NHC and the Beijing Health Commission did not respond to requests for comment. Phone calls to Shuangqiao Hospital went unanswered after doctors working there said they were unable to speak to the media.

Employees at Tongzhou Funeral Home, who asked not to be named, told the FT that the facility was facing unusually large demand and had “covid deaths every day”, although it was unclear how many of the overall deaths were related to covid. .

“We are burning from morning until 10 at night,” said one. “Kilns can’t take it.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *