She was still on oxygen support when the doctor told her she was ready to go home.
She couldn’t stop coughing. Too much fluid was filling up her lungs because of the viral infection, causing chest pains and making it hard for her to breathe.
“Her limbs were so weak that she would fall when going to the restroom. She couldn’t walk out of her room,” her daughter, Zhang, wrote in a social media post pleading for public attention.
Despite that, her nucleic test results came out negative, and to the hospital, that was enough reason to get her out. On Feb. 16, they stopped giving her any treatments, apart from some cough medicine, according to Zhang. Four days later, they dispatched a car, and she was on her way.
“The government said they will ‘hospitalize anyone who should be hospitalized,’” Zhang said, citing the slogan from a recent COVID-19 outbreak control campaign in Hubei to locate all coronavirus patients.
“You may have admitted them, but then you discharge those who haven’t recovered.” The patient, whose name was omitted for safety reasons, stayed in Wuhan’s Zhongnan Hospital for 25 days.
“Will these people carry the virus with them? What if they spread it out further?” She said to The Epoch Times, noting that her mother’s CT scans have shown “clear fibrosis in the infected spot” and pleural thickening.
Zhang said that a lot of patients were discharged similarly, casting clouds of doubt over the authenticity of Chinese official figures. At least a few of them got reinfected, according to Zhang. “A lot of half-truths in the recovery data,” she said.
Chinese officials and media reports have noted cases where patients had the virus despite being discharged from the hospital.
On Feb. 19, a patient considered to have recovered from coronavirus in Chengdu, the capital of southwestern Sichuan Province, was hospitalized again upon testing positive to the virus. The person left the hospital on Feb. 10 and stayed at home under self-quarantine since then.
Lei Xuezhong, vice director of infectious disease center at West China Hospital and an expert assisting with outbreak control in Sichuan, said that the case was a call for stricter lab test standards. They will increase the frequency of diagnostic tests from two to three to increase accuracy, according to local news outlet Red Star News. When asked if it was a relapse of the disease, Lei dismissed such possibility, saying it was likely a result of a small amount of remaining virus manifesting in the body, and should not cause public anxiety.
A patient surnamed Tang in Hunan, located south of Hubei, left the hospital on Feb. 4 after testing negative to the virus, according to local media. CT scans found small shadows in her lung area. Three days later, she was hospitalized again after complaining of low fever and dry coughs. Her lung infections had gotten worse. She tested positive in her fourth test, on Feb. 9.
The first two coronavirus cases in Ontario, Canada, a couple in their 50s, also tested positive for the virus and were confined at home on Feb. 13.
Questions Around the Numbers
A lack of consistency in official figures from China has also recently come under international scrutiny. The government of Hubei, where Wuhan is the capital, has shifted the case count methods three times over the past two weeks.
The changes drew confusion on Feb. 20, when Wuhan city reported 615 new confirmed cases—hundreds more than the provincial total of 349. The officials said that the higher Wuhan numbers arose because China advised the province to no longer account for the numbers of clinically ill patients who tested negative in labs.
It was a reversal of the previous guideline, which led to a ten-fold rise in the Feb. 12 case tally to 14,840, with over 13,300 of them being clinically diagnosed patients.
Marking yet another change on Friday, Hubei’s health commission announced that they would add back the missing data from the day before, and those who made the previous change will be held responsible.
Nowhere to Turn
Zhongnan Hospital, where Zhang’s mother stayed, announced plans to add another 2,000 beds on Wednesday, the day before they sent her mother home.
Her case remains in limbo—the makeshift hospitals, known as fangcang, which take in suspected patients and those with light symptoms, refused to admit her, saying that her condition was too severe. The neighborhood committee that’s in charge of arranging hospitalization of residents said they couldn’t do anything because the hospital was not within their jurisdiction. Nor did the hospital in their district have any additional capacity.
The Epoch Times has spoken with families of patients who jumped to their deaths from buildings after being denied treatment. Zhang said she also knew of at least four or five infected locals who attempted suicide in sheer desperation.
“Of course, the medical resources are limited, but you can’t only pursue a recovery rate and ignore patients’ needs,” Zhang wrote in a now-deleted post.
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