Across China, citizens have reported all kinds of hardships due to the Zero-Covid measures in recent months. Some of the reported consequences range from the impossibility of going to work or moving freely, to food and medicine shortages and lack of access to healthcare.

Today, we will learn more about what cancer patients are going through in lockdowns and discover facts about cancer villages.

According to the Sun, cancer patients and pregnant women without proof of a negative Covid test have been denied urgent medical care in China. 

Eight-month pregnant mother Xi’an was reported to have a miscarriage. She was denied care until she tested negative for the virus.

In addition, an elderly man with advanced cancer was blocked by a staff member on the way to the hospital, which caused widespread debate on Weibo. This happened in Zibo city, in East China’s Shandong province.

According to Zhihu media, the man was on the way to Zibo Central Hospital for treatment. But he was stopped and asked for the certificate to prove that he was “waiting to die.”

Netizens’ reaction 

The video about the Zibo incident became viral. Many netizens felt indignant after watching the video on Weibo.

A user commented that the one-size-fits-all policy harms the people’s official prestige and disregards people’s lives.

Another user said the health staff should be mindful of humanity. Otherwise, such an unpleasant situation would occur. Meanwhile, according to other users, the one-size-fits-all policy seems convenient just for the Chinese government.

This single case could depict what Chinese cancer patients are going through under the COVID epidemic and how the government is dealing with it. 

The following are some facts about cancer in some regions in China, which help us understand the number of people who seek medical attention and the hardships they go through.

Cancer villages

Cancer is the most commonly diagnosed disease and is among the top ten causes of death worldwide, including in China. It has long been a major health issue in China. 

According to the National Library of Medicine (NIH), —an official website of the U.S. government— China’s economic growth has created many environmental and health problems, including so-called ‘cancer villages.’

The Guardian had already reported by 2013 that cancer mortality rates in China increased an 80% over the past 30 years, making it the country’s leading cause of death.

The Guardian added that there is a clear link between pollution and health issues. While air pollution is the main problem in cities, water pollution is a serious concern in the countryside. 

According to government reports, almost half of rivers and lakes may contain water unfit for human contact, while 70% are already polluted.

Data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization released 2020 cancer figures in China: the reported number of new cases was nearly 4.570.000, and the number of deaths was over 3.000.000

As reported by NIH, in 2022, it is projected there will be approximately 4,820,000 new cancer cases and 3,210,000 new cancer deaths in China.  

Thyroid tumors in Shandong caused by environmental pollution

In 2021, NIH issued a detailed report about the findings on thyroid cancer in China. As mentioned in the report, the number of new thyroid cancer cases was around 39,000 in 2019 in China. The projection for 2039 is 47,820. The death toll is estimated to be around 4,000.

According to Chinese language media outlet Da Ji Yuan, 60%-80% of the people in Dongming County suffer from thyroid tumors. This place is also known as a “cancer village.”

The NIH report also mentions environmental pollutants as risk factors for thyroid cancer. The chemical industry caused severe pollution in the area. Chinese language media Da Ji Yuan reported water pollution as the leading cause of cancer in Dongming County. 

Four cyclohexanone factories were built in Dongming County in 2013, allegedly causing people to suffer from thyroid tumors. These factories pour water into underground waterways, farmland, and the Yellow River. People claim they get cancer after drinking the water.

VOA Chinese has lately reported the case of a middle school teacher in Dongming. He said that some colleagues found early symptoms of “thyroid tumor” in the annual physical examination arranged by the school. Currently, about ten people have undergone surgery.

According to Sun Wenguang, a retired professor of Shandong University, it is illegal for the local government to ignore the harm to the environment and people’s health caused by polluting industries for political performance and tax revenue.

Sign up to receive our latest news!

By submitting this form, I agree to the terms.