Bodies pile up in Hong Kong hospital amid spiraling Covid deaths
11th March 2022

Bodies pile up next to patients in Hong Kong hospital amid spiraling Covid deaths driven by low vaccine take-up as ‘Zero Covid’ holdouts China order an entire city of nine million into lockdown

  • A photo on Friday showed body bags lining the halls of a Hong Kong hospital 
  • Living patients lay right by their side as the hospital ran out of space
  • The photo reportedly showed the Queen Elizabeth Hospital
  •  China’s Hospital Authority apologized and said the situation was under control

A shocking photo has emerged showing bodies lying abandoned on stretchers next to living patients in a Hong Kong hospital as Covid deaths spiral in the city fueled by a low vaccine uptake. 

A medic working at the hospital told Hong Kong Free Press the photo was taken inside the Accident & Emergency ward of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong and circulated on Friday.

The photo, reportedly taken in early March, showed six body bags lying on stretchers as bed-bound patients struggled to prop themselves up.

Body bags lay right beside the surviving patients with tags labelling their contents, a grim omen for those still relying on ventilators for breathing support.

Chinese officials are struggling to contain the biggest Covid-19 outbreak since the pandemic erupted in Wuhan two years ago. Health authorities reported 29,381 new infections and 196 deaths on Friday.  

A shocking photo emerged of bodies stored on the ward of a Hong Kong hospital, forcing China’s Hospital Authority to apologize 

A person is transferred onto a bus outside Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong on March 10, 2022, as the government announced the hospital will be used only for Covid-19 patients

Hospital workers dispose medical waste outside Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong on 10 March 2022

A person (2nd L) is transferred onto a bus outside Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong on 10 March 2022,

‘The Hospital Authority understands that sometimes bodies cannot be transferred to the mortuary in time,’ said Sara Ho, chief manager of the Hospital Authority said on Friday, adding that the situation appearing in the photograph has since been dealt with.

‘We hope everyone could be understanding [about how] public hospitals have done the best to use more manpower to handle this situation.

‘We are very sorry for causing discomfort to patients,’ she said.

Hong Kong’s hospitals are being overwhelmed, with the South China Morning Post reporting the city now has  the world’s highest Covid-19 death rate per capita.

The news came as China prepares to send another city into lockdown, cutting off over nine-million people inside Changchun.

China reported another 397 cases of local transmission nationwide on Friday, 98 of them in the Jilin province where the city of Changchun is located.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Friday that the city’s Covid-19 vaccination program would focus on its elderly and children, as authorities battled to reduce a surge of coronavirus infections and climbing death rates. 

Deaths are shown spiking in mid February and continuing to rise, prompting further lockdowns

Cases appear to have peaked in early March, but deaths remain high across Hong Kong

Hong Kong will test its entire population for Covid-19 in March, said Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, pictured

In total since early 2020, the global financial hub has recorded almost 650,000 Covid-19 infections and about 3,500 deaths – most of them in the past two weeks.

Hong Kong registered the most deaths per million people globally in the week to March 9, according to Our World in Data. Most have been unvaccinated senior citizens.

Until this year, the Chinese-ruled city had an enviable track record of controlling the virus due to stringent measures as part of its ‘zero covid’ approach, which like mainland China seeks to eradicate outbreaks at all costs.

However, many residents in the former British colony chose to remain unvaccinated for most of 2021, due to the minimal number of infections and fear of side effects, particularly among the elderly.

‘Over 90% of the deaths were those who had not been fully vaccinated. We need to catch up and vaccinate every Hong Kong citizen,’ Lam told a daily news briefing on how her government was managing the virus.

Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference at the government headquarters in Hong Kong on 9 March 2022.

A resident undergoes a nucleic acid test for the Covid-19 coronavirus in Changchun in China’s northeastern Jilin province on March 11

Residents queue to undergo nucleic acid tests for the Covid-19 coronavirus at a residental area in Changchun

The city holds over nine-million people and is the latest city to be locked down in China

While there has been a rapid pick up in vaccinations – more than 90% of the population have now had at least one dose, rates among the more vulnerable elderly have lagged the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the city.

Just over 53% of those over 80 are vaccinated, government data shows.

Lam said her government was shifting its approach to target the elderly with more medical resources after a senior Chinese official said Hong Kong needed to prioritize reducing deaths.

The government had previously focused on identifying, treating and isolating each infection even if they were mild or asymptomatic cases.

It was also planning to hold a mass testing scheme for the city’s 7.4 million residents in March.

Lam this week said there was no time frame for the testing and it would only be done if there were sufficient resources.

Hospitals, morgues and isolation centers are overflowing, while some supermarkets and grocery stores still have empty shelves nearly two weeks after residents began stocking up in anticipation of a potential city-wide lockdown.

Many residents have been frustrated about what they see as constant changes in the government’s policy.

Lam said she was the ‘authoritative source’ for all coronavirus information and would address any rumors or misinformation.

Her administration was managing the outbreak as best as possible with the changes aiming to achieve ‘the objectives of safety and health,’ she said


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