The city of Harbin in northeastern China has experienced a renewed outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) in the past months. However, local authorities have remained silent, despite continued reports of cases and deaths coming out of the city.
After a brief period in April, when most regions of China reported little to no new coronavirus infections, a second wave of outbreaks broke out in several Chinese provinces. One of these was the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, where Harbin is the capital.
Local authorities, however, have tried to hide the impact of the new outbreak on the province. Officially, the last COVID-19 death in the province happened way back on February 27. Since then, the province’s official death toll has remained the same, at 13 people. (Related: New coronavirus hotspots identified in China, but official records say otherwise – is this another cover up?.)
However, people who actually live there have said otherwise.
If Harbin authorities are to be believed, the last COVID-19 patient in the city was discharged from the hospital where he was being treated on May 16.
Locals, however, paint a different story. Talking to The Epoch Times, a number of patients at the Harbin No. 2 Hospital stated that they knew of some people in the hospital who had died COVID-19 on top of a larger number of patients currently being isolated because of it.
Zhang Ling, Li Ping and Zhou Yang all contracted the coronavirus after having visited the hospital in early April. They said that they were healthy when they visited the hospital and that they caught the virus while taking care of their spouses who were being treated for non-virus-related illnesses.
The four had apparently contracted the virus from an 87-year old COVID-19 patient who was staying at the hospital’s 17th floor. The spouses of the four were also on that floor. Three of them were eventually diagnosed with COVID-19 and two eventually died from the disease.
Li Ping’s husband was one of the patients who died. The latter had been confined at the No. 2 Hospital for a non-virus related illness since March 29 when he suddenly lost consciousness and died on April 8. During that time, the hospital staff did not tell Li about the risks of contracting the virus in the hospital. They only told her April 16, when Li herself was already confined at the hospital for COVID-19.
Though the hospital never tested Li’s husband, she now believes that he died of COVID-19 as well. Meanwhile, Li’s sister and daughter-in-law have since been diagnosed with COVID-19, with their infections traced to her.
Zhang Ling and her husband caught the disease under similar circumstances to Li. Zhang’s husband was originally confined due to a tumor but had responded well to treatment and was told by doctors on April 9 that he could be discharged in two days. However, on the evening of April 10, he developed a fever. The next day, Zhang noticed that the hospital staff on the 17th floor had suddenly been changed.
“On the morning of April 11, all doctors and nurses were changed up. The newly arrived medical staff all wore protective suits. The previous ones didn’t wear them,” Zhang said.
“We [were] very anxious, but the doctors said they have no solutions,” Zhang added. “They didn’t give us any medicine, and are hoping our bodies recover by ourselves.”
Zhou Yang, whose wife had been receiving treatment for dementia at the No. 2 Hospital also noticed the change in staff, saying that they were in a panic during that time.
On April 11, the hospital started conducting nucleic acid tests. Zhang, Zhou and their spouses all tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to Zhang, 30 COVID-19 patients are currently being treated in the No. 2 Hospital, while five had died. Of the surviving patients, 20 had originally tested negative in nucleic acid tests, but later tested positive in antibody tests.
While Zhang and her husband are confined at the No. 2 Hospital, Zhou and his wife were transferred to the Harbin Infection Hospital.
Harbin isn’t the only city in northeastern China that has tried to cover up its coronavirus outbreak. In Jilin, the capital of the neighboring province of the same name, authorities also underreported the number of coronavirus cases in the city. In addition, they have tried to cover up the fact that a number of medical staff had been infected with the coronavirus.
Northeastern China isn’t the only region where these coronavirus cover-ups have happened. Evidence shows that Chinese authorities have tried their best to downplay outbreaks in other regions as well.
This underreporting has cast doubt on China’s officially reported coronavirus numbers. Official data claims that the country only has around 84,000 coronavirus cases. However, reports indicate that the actual number may be much higher.