Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority (HA) has asked the public to understand its difficulties with saturated mortuaries amid the city’s Covid-19 crisis, as an image of bodies lying next to living patients on a hospital ward surfaced online.
The photo, circulating on Facebook on Friday, showed six body bags left on stretchers next to three patients on a public hospital ward. The photo was taken at the Accident & Emergency ward of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Jordan, a medic who works at the hospital told HKFP. They spoke on condition of anonymity.
They indicated that the photo would have been taken around early March, although the situation has largely been alleviated after workers sped up transfers to mortuaries. The hospital has also allocated an empty ward for temporary storage.
HKFP also noted refrigerated containers outside the building last week.
The medic added that there have been fewer patients remaining in the A&E ward since QEH began transferring away non-Covid patients on Wednesday.
Hong Kong reported 29,381 Covid-19 infections on Friday, of which 10,493 were determined from rapid tests. There have been 3,150 deaths related to the pandemic as of Thursday.
Sara Ho, chief manager of the Hospital Authority, said on Friday that the situation seen in the photographs has since been dealt with.
“The Hospital Authority understands that sometimes bodies cannot be transferred to the mortuary in time,” Ho said. “We hope everyone could be understanding [about how] public hospitals have done their best to use more manpower to handle this situation.”
“We are very sorry for causing discomfort to patients,” she said, adding that hospital workers always ensure patients’ remains are treated with respect.
Internet users expressed shock at the photo: “What did I just see? These scenes occurred in European countries like Italy during the early days of the pandemic, but it was because nobody knew what this virus was,” one user wrote on Facebook. “But for two years our government officials did not know to think of danger in times of safety.”
Another wrote: “This is living together [with Covid], medics are under so much pressure.”
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