Ongoing Pneumonia Outbreak Continues to Overwhelm Hospitals in Chinese Cities; More Sudden Deaths Reported in Rural Areas

A Chinese doctor says the symptoms of the outbreak are worse than that of COVID-19. A village of 300 has seen 15 deaths related to the outbreak this winter.

The respiratory disease outbreak in China has been sweeping the country for months, overwhelming hospitals with more and more severe pneumonia cases and sudden deaths reported by the public.

However, the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been downplaying the outbreak and avoiding mention of COVID-19 as ordered by the CCP’s leader, despite the similarities in symptoms. Instead, the CCP’s health authorities have attributed the ongoing outbreak to various other pathogens in the past months, such as mycoplasma pneumoniae, RSV, influenza A, and now influenza B.

As the outbreak continues to worsen, Peng Zhibin, director of the Respiratory Infectious Diseases Division of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at China’s National Health Commission’s Jan. 25 press briefing that currently, acute respiratory diseases in China are dominated by influenza, of which influenza B has recently accounted for more infections, resulting in small fluctuations in the influenza epidemic.

Several mainland Chinese doctors publicly said in recent days that “the influenza B” epidemic has swept across the country. One said the symptoms have been even worse than those of COVID-19. Hospitals everywhere in the country are overflowing with huge crowds of patients. There have also been more reports of sudden deaths now, and the deceased “has no age limit.”

‘More Severe Than COVID-19’

Dr. Zhong Ruolei, director of the Vascular Surgery Department of Jianghan University Affiliated Hospital (Wuhan Sixth Hospital), said in a video program on Jan. 24: “I would like to remind everyone urgently that the proportion of influenza B is increasing. Some of my family members and friends are infected, and the symptoms are even more severe than COVID-19, and most of them occur in children.”

COVID-19 has never disappeared from China. After the massive outbreak at the end of 2022 and early 2023 that killed countless people, causing severe symptoms such as white lungs, another round of pneumonia outbreak has been noticed spreading in the country since September 2023, especially among children. It then was also observed spreading in other age groups.

However, the country has stopped COVID-19 testing since December 2022, and with the CCP’s deliberate avoidance of COVID-19 and ongoing information censorship, the public is now suspicious that the wave of sickness could be another wave of COVID-19 caused by a new mutated strain.

Patients on beds set up in the atrium area of a busy hospital in Shanghai on Jan. 13, 2023. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Patients on beds set up in the atrium area of a busy hospital in Shanghai on Jan. 13, 2023. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

A pediatrician in Guangxi Province in southern China said in a video posted to social media on Jan. 24 that “influenza B” has broken out across the country and many children have been infected.

Pharmacist Xu, who is certified as a licensed pharmacist in Yantai city’s Deyuchang Pharmacy in Shandong Province, posted a video on social media, saying that the “influenza B” epidemic is sweeping across the country.

“In the past year, influenza outbreaks have occurred repeatedly, and outpatient clinics are also overcrowded. Recently, influenza strains in Beijing and other places have evolved to be dominated by influenza B, and some people have been infected more than once. This is mainly caused by poor immunity.”

Hospitals Overcrowded; White Lungs, Sudden Deaths More Common

A resident in Wuhan, Hubei Province, posted a video on his social media account “Xiao Zhu Daily” that shows a scene at the Wuhan Union Medical College Hospital on the morning of Jan. 23.

He said in the video: “Early in the morning, there are so many people in this hospital. The patients are everywhere. It could be said to be a sea of people. People who came to the hospital are all wearing masks, and there were very few who were not wearing them.”

Patients line up for an emergency pre-check at the new pediatric building of Xinhua Hospital in Shanghai on the night of Sept. 25, 2023. The emergency and night care outpatient hall is crowded with children and family members waiting for treatment. (CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
Patients line up for an emergency pre-check at the new pediatric building of Xinhua Hospital in Shanghai on the night of Sept. 25, 2023. The emergency and night care outpatient hall is crowded with children and family members waiting for treatment. (CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Residents in northeast China told The Epoch Times of similar situations in the north.

Mr. Wang from Jilin Province said on Jan. 24 that there are many adults and children who are infected in Changchun city. There are so many patients that appointment times in some hospitals are all full and people have to wait 20 days to see a doctor.

“My grandson caught a cold, and I took him to Changchun Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine to see a doctor,” he said. “There were also a lot of people there. I went to the inpatient area and saw that it’s all full.”

Mr. Wang said that in the hospital he saw a girl about 10 years old who was told she had white lungs and fell into a coma. An expert was quickly called over to take a look at her and ordered to send the girl to the inpatient ward.

Xiao Yang (pseudonym), a Harbin citizen, told The Epoch Times that recently many people have had recurring fevers and attested to how crowded the hospitals are.

Mr. Zhang, a citizen of Harbin in Heilongjiang Province, said many people are infected with the virus.

“I have been infected for more than two months, and I am still not recovered,” he said. “I am relying on my own immunity to fight the virus.”

Mr. Zhang said his mother is also still coughing and that his 1-year-old granddaughter also has pneumonia.

“There is no effective treatment, just taking some medicine or IV treatment,“ he said. ”Doctors cannot guarantee that the patient will be cured after taking them.”

Mr. Zhang said he believes that he was actually infected with COVID-19 because his cough never goes away.

“If it was a common cold or fever, it would naturally get better after a while,” he said.

Mr. Zhang also said it has become common for people to suddenly and unexpectedly die.

“People who died suddenly are of all ages; there is no age difference anymore,” he said.

Outbreak in Shanxi Worsening

Residents in many places in Shanxi Province, in west China, told The Epoch Times that a large number of people have been infected and many have died.

A mourner carries the cremated remains of a loved one as he and others wear traditional white funeral clothing, during a funeral in Shanghai on Jan. 14, 2023. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
A mourner carries the cremated remains of a loved one as he and others wear traditional white funeral clothing, during a funeral in Shanghai on Jan. 14, 2023. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Guo Chao (pseudonym), a citizen of Datong city in Shanxi Province, said he was infected with the virus and only recovered recently.

“Many people have been infected and have the same symptoms and contagiousness as COVID-19,” he said. “As long as one person is infected, it will be transmitted to others. Even small clinics are full of patients, which feels pretty serious.

“A man in our company said that in his [hometown] in Shanyin City, 15 people died this winter. Their village is not big, with 200 to 300 people, and 15 people died.”

Mr. Guo noted that because the rural areas are very poor, many farmers have insufficient medical resources and can only suffer through it when they fall ill.

The deputy chief physician of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Department of Shuanghui Town Health Center in Wangcang County posted a video on social media on Jan. 23 saying that currently, the “influenza B” virus has broken out in many areas of Shanxi, that people with weak immunity have been infected, and that many people have developed fever, cough, and other symptoms—not just children.

CCP authorities and Shanxi officials have not reported on the current epidemic in Shanxi.

Fang Xiao and Xiong Bin contributed to this report.

 

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