China: More Deaths by ‘Zero-Covid’ than Coronavirus in 6 Months

Residents, including children, wear protective clothing and masks as they wait on a bus outside a residential compound before leaving, as part of epidemic control to prevent the spread of COVID-19, on November 15, 2022 in Beijing, China. Though the government recently revised its COVID strategy, it has said it …
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The Chinese Communist Party this weekend admitted to its first case of death attributable to Chinese coronavirus infection in nearly six months: an 87-year-old man with multiple comorbidities.

Since the weekend, Beijing authorities have confirmed two other deaths: a 91-year-old woman and an 88-year-old man.

Despite not having documented a single death as a result of complications from the virus since May 26, the Chinese government has insisted on imposing brutal, in some cases city-wide, lockdowns on its citizens, banning them from leaving their homes and often leaving them without food or necessary medical care. The lockdowns are part of a policy China refers to as “zero-Covid,” which also includes mass internment at quarantine camps, family separations to allegedly protect those who test negative, and rolling, mandatory coronavirus tests.

Chinese government officials have admitted to more deaths as a result of “zero-Covid” in the past six months than they have as a result of coronavirus infection.

Chinese officials have confirmed the deaths of at least two people denied medical care over lockdowns in November – a three-year-old boy in northwestern Lanzhou and a 55-year-old woman in Inner Mongolia – and 27 people who died on a bus headed to a coronavirus quarantine camp that was inexplicably driving around mountainous cliffs in the dead of night. Dozens of other deaths – including individuals starving, lacking basic necessary medical products, or committing suicide – have been denounced, and later censored, on Chinese social media, though the government has not admitted to these.

The government denied that lockdown protocol caused the death of a four-month-old girl in Zhengzhou who was refused medical treatment, allegedly because she did not test positive for coronavirus and thus not treated as an emergency case, but claimed she died as a result of “a weak sense of responsibility” on the part of health workers.

China is the origin nation of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, which began in central Wuhan city in late 2019. Since the onset of the outbreak in Wuhan, extensive evidence has indicated that the Chinese Communist Party has withheld true death and case statistics. A study published by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in April 2020 estimated that China had likely experienced more than 100 times the number of coronavirus cases it had documented by then. Reports from funeral homes and crematories in Wuhan cast significant doubt on the comparatively low death tolls the Chinese government was publishing.

China’s state-run Global Times newspaper reported the death of the 87-year-old man infected with the Chinese coronavirus in Beijing on Sunday. Beijing is the last remaining major city on which the Communist Party has not imposed a total lockdown, instead firmly “advising” residents not to leave their homes.

“The patient experienced sepsis shock on Saturday, which has a death rate as high as 75 percent,” the dean of Beijing Ditan Hospital of Capital Medical University, where the man was treated, said at a press conference. “The patient’s family gave up invasive medical treatment for the individual after the hospital fully informed them of the situation.”

The Global Times reported that the last documented coronavirus death in China allegedly occurred on May 26 in Shanghai, amid a brutal lockdown that is believed to have triggered multiple suicides.

On Monday, the state-run newspaper identified two other Beijing coronavirus deaths at the same hospital.

“According to an official announcement, the pulse, blood pressure and blood oxygen of the 91-year-old female, who had suffered from a cerebral infarction and Alzheimer’s disease for years, cannot be measured when she was transferred to hospital on Saturday,” the outlet noted. “The 88-year-old man who had long-term high blood pressure, chronic bronchitis and a cerebral infarction, died of a sudden cardiac arrest.”

Deaths as a result of the Chinese government’s coronavirus policies dwarf those documented as a result of the virus the policies are allegedly attempting to protect citizens from. The most recent such confirmed death occurred this month in Lanzhou, Gansu province, a situation in which government officials apologized for their poor efforts.

According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), the three-year-old was suffering from symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning when government officials, according to his father, prevented the boy from leaving his house to see a doctor.

“The boy’s father, surnamed Tuo, wrote on social media Wednesday that he had been denied permission to leave his housing compound by workers stationed at a checkpoint, and that an ambulance did not arrive in time,” AFP narrated. “Over an hour later, he managed to break out of the compound and flag down a taxi to a hospital, shortly after which his son was pronounced dead, he said.”

The government’s apology reportedly did not mention delayed medical care.

Also in early November, the local government of Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, admitted that a 55-year-old woman died, apparently of suicide, in response to an extended lockdown.

“An investigation revealed that property management and community staff were slow to respond, did not respond properly, and lacked sensitivity to emergencies,” an official city statement read.

The bizarre deaths of 27 people in a bus crash in September are also the result of China’s “zero-Covid” policies. The incident occurred in Guizhou province, in the nation’s southwest, when a bus carrying 47 people to a quarantine camp about 150 miles from their homes crashed on a windy mountainous road around 2:40 a.m. local time. The government of China confirmed the crash.

“It is unclear why a quarantine bus would take people on winding mountain roads after midnight. China’s transport regulation prohibits long-distance coaches from operating between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.,” the left-wing CNN news channel reported at the time.

Even the day after the last documented coronavirus death in China, authorities were responding to deaths by “zero-Covid.” On May 27, the South China Morning Post reported that a 32-year-old man in Beijing died after experiencing “sharp chest pain” and not being able to find a hospital that would treat him.

A man identified by the last name “Song” wrote a social media post explaining the situation, claiming it took nearly an hour for an ambulance to show up and that upon arriving at a hospital, no health workers would treat him.

“In a statement on Friday, authorities said the Shunyi district government and Beijing health authorities were investigating the centre and the hospital over the case, and would inspect all first aid centres and hospitals in the district,” the Morning Post observed.

The Chinese government has openly denied, or merely quietly censored, a litany of similar reports from nearly every province in the country. On Friday, the story of the four-month-old girl dying in Zhengzhou began to spread online. The girl, according to her father, was suffering from intense vomiting and diarrhea but not the coronavirus, so health workers refused to treat her and, instead, sent her to a hospital 62 miles away, where she died.

The Global Times published an article Monday claiming that authorities denied that “zero-Covid” killed the baby, but, nonetheless, admitted that negligence played a role.

“Local authorities have criticized, educated and punished some medical workers, and stated that they will instruct relevant departments to do a good job in dealing with the aftermath of their families in a timely manner,” the article noted. “It promises to focus on the diagnosis and treatment process of key groups, and do its best to ensure the safety and health of the people.”

These are the deaths the Chinese government has admitted to. Journalists at independent outlets such as Radio Free Asia (RFA) have documented dozens of deaths in the country’s most remote areas as a result of lockdowns. In occupied Tibet, RFA confirmed the deaths of at least three people under lockdown in September who did not have access to needed medical care. In East Turkistan, where China is currently committing genocide against its indigenous peoples, RFA confirmed 22 such deaths the same month.

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