Beijing-based doctor Howard Bernstein has worked in emergency medicine for over three decades. However, Bernstein has never experienced anything like the current situation.
He told Reuters that patients’ visits at his hospital are increasing. Most of them are elderly, with many having symptoms of COVID and pneumonia.
This wave of COVID infection is the country’s biggest outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic in Wuhan three years ago.
Bernstein said at the end of his shift at the privately owned Beijing United Family Hospital, “The hospital is just overwhelmed from top to bottom.” He added, “the ICU is full,” as are the emergency department, the fever clinic, and other wards.
According to Dr. Sonia Jutard-Bourreau, 48, the number of patients at the private Raffles Hospital in Beijing is five to six times higher than average. And that after a week, the average age of the patients increased by roughly 40 years to over 70.
Medical staff across China said that because COVID and sickness levels amongst staff have been exceptionally high, hospital resources are being hit hard.
One nurse working in the western city of Xi’an reported that 45 out of 51 nurses in her department and every staff member in the emergency department had been infected recently.
A 22-year-old nurse surnamed Wang said she was told to go to work even with a positive COVID test and a mild fever. Nurses at other hospitals face the same situation.
According to British-based health data company Airfinity, infections in China are likely to be over a million per day, and deaths are likely to be over 5,000 per day, which is in “stark contrast” to official data.