PUBLISHED: 12:55, Fri, Jan 24, 2020 | UPDATED: 13:16, Fri, Jan 24, 2020
Video taken in a packed hospital corridor appears to show covered corpses on the floor just feet from terrified patients wearing face-masks while overstretched medics in protective clothing try to treat them. Besieged hospitals in Wuhan have called for public donations of medical supplies such as surgical masks, scrubs and protective goggles. All isolation wards across the crisis-torn city are full. Senior health ministry officials in Beijing today issued a decree declaring no patients with fever can be turned away from hospital and that transportation to hospitals would be provided following screenings at community healthcare centres.
The focus is not so much on the numbers, which we know will go up
WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic
The directive comes as posts on social media appear to show an atmosphere of fear and anxiety among those inside Wuhan.
Residents have described sick family members turned away from hospitals due to a lack of beds or wards packed with feverish patients and limited screening or quarantine.
Health officials in stricken cities across the central province of Hubei insist they are doing all they can to halt the spread of the disease with tens of millions of citizens ordered to stay at home, public transport suspended, flights grounded and New Year celebrations put on hold.
A Wuhan hospital is besieged by terrified residents (Image: GETTY)
But there are growing fears the emergency measures may have come too late to stop a pandemic and also concerns Chinese authorities might be trying to play down the scale of the health crisis.
Officials figures from the National Health Commission show 26 people have died as a result of contracting coronavirus with 830 infected.
But some experts believe the true figures could be much higher and evidence on social media would suggest the official line is conservative.
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Wuhan patients wait for coronavirus screening (Image: GETTY)
Medics in protective clothing treat a coronavirus patient (Image: GETTY)
Disease modelling experts from Imperial College, London, say the true figure in Wuhan alone could be 4,000 and as high as 9,700 in the worst case scenario.