Coronavirus cases in Beijing have allegedly peaked as the city comes back to life after China lifted its strict COVID-policies earlier this month, though hospitals and funeral homes are telling a different story reports said Wednesday.
"Beijing is the first city to have gone through the infection peak, where life and work are coming back to normal as we speak," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Webin told reporters Wednesday. "Relevant Chinese departments have made scientific assessments of the potential peaks in other provinces and cities."
China reported three new COVID-related deaths Tuesday, a slight increase from the one death reported Monday. However, reports have long suggested that the Chinese government has underreported its case and mortality count since cases first broke out three years ago.
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In its latest daily update – last posted on Saturday – China’s National Health Commission said that a total of 5,237 people have died from the virus over the last three years – a figure believed to be grossly underreported.
The U.S. in contrast has reported over 1 million deaths from the virus.
"Facts are that since COVID began three years ago, the Chinese government has always put the people and their lives above all else," the ministry’s spokesman claimed Wednesday. "Globally speaking, China has had the lowest rates of severe cases and mortality."
China has not only faced international condemnation for its severe COVID policies like forced quarantine in state facilities and massive community lockdowns – which also led to rare nationwide protests – but reports from hospitals, crematoriums and funeral homes suggest they are struggling under large COVID cases loads.
A Reuters report Wednesday found that the recent reversal of strict COVID policies has meant the virus has spread unchecked, leaving its health system overwhelmed as millions are believed to have been infected.
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"I’ve been doing this job for 30 years and this is the busiest I have ever known it," one ambulance driver told the publication.
One worker out of Hauxi Hospital in the city of Chengdu reported being "extremely busy" as long lines queued up outside and inside the emergency room Tuesday night.
Another staff member from the emergency department told Reuters that "almost all" the incoming patients were COVID positive, and the hospital had run out of medications to help treat the virus and were instead forced to just help alleviate the symptoms.
A funeral home in Chengdu said it was holding 30 to 50 processions a day as smoke constantly billowed from its crematorium.
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"There have been so many deaths from COVID lately," one worker told the publication. "Cremation slots are all fully booked. You can’t get one until the new year."
Wang on Wednesday dismissed reports that China’s COVID policies have failed and claimed, "Western media have deliberately hyped up and even misrepresented China’s COVID policy adjustment."
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