Dec 26 – Hospitals in Hebei are turning away patients and the infected are sleeping on benches in hospital corridors or lying on floors as concern rises over China’s Covid surge which might unleash a new Coronavirus mutant on the world. China, which ended long quarantines, lockdowns and mandatory testing, is now experiencing its first-ever national Covid wave and ICUs are overwhelmed. Even though China has reported zero Covid-related deaths since easing restrictions, crematoriums are overcrowded, indicating the extent of the Covid surge. In Heiei, the elderly are getting infected and it has caused an overrun of ICUs and funeral homes. At a hospital in Zhuozhou, ambulances were turned away as the ICU was so crowded, AP reported. “There’s no oxygen or electricity in this corridor. If you can’t even give him oxygen, how can you save him? If you don’t want any delays, turn around and get out quickly,” a health worker told the relatives of a patient. Some ambulances are heading straight to funeral homes. At the Zhuozhou crematorium, furnaces are burning overtime as workers struggle to cope with a spike in deaths in the past week, according to one employee. A funeral shop worker estimated it is burning 20 to 30 bodies a day, up from three to four before COVID-19 measures were loosened.