At one Wuhan hospital AFP visited, there were long queues of sick patients, many coughing, with overwhelmed staff unable to process them quickly.
Outside the Red Cross facility – which is one of the hospitals people are sent to for initial tests if they show signs of infection – patients told AFP they felt exasperated and helpless.
“It has been two days since I slept, and I have been wandering from hospital to hospital,” said a man in his 30s, who was trying to see a doctor because he was worried he might be infected.
“At this rate, my turn will be tomorrow morning at best.”
Those who spoke to AFP told of extremely long queues and disorganisation.
One spoke of a fear that sick patients with fevers will infect each other while waiting in long queues, even if they didn’t have the coronavirus when they first arrived at the hospital.
Another man said he had seen several people faint while waiting.
Many people carried their own plastic stools to sit on, while one pragmatic man had brought a lounge chair with him.
“It takes at least five hours to see a doctor,” one woman, who didn’t want to be named, told AFP.
The woman, who was with her son, said the management of the hospital was “really messy”.
An old man wearing a Mao cap said he had waited all day to see a doctor, only to be sent home because of a “lack of room”.
AFP saw some patients inside the hospital who were without masks, despite city orders that anyone going out must wear them.
Patients were taking their own temperatures with mercury thermometers, by mouth or armpit, and there were no checks on anyone entering or leaving the hospital.
“There is no more space, the staff are overwhelmed, there is a shortage of some medicine, and patients are being left to fend for themselves,” said one 30-year-old.
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