At least one dead, two dozen hospitalized amid record-breaking heat in southern China
Published: Jul 13, 2022 05:19 PM Updated: Jul 13, 2022 10:45 PM
Children play on a fountain plaza in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, on the evening of July 9, 2022. Photo: IC

Children play on a fountain plaza in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, on the evening of July 9, 2022. Photo: IC

As scorching, record-breaking heat is expected to affect southern China for a longer time, reports of heat strokes have been increasing in various cities, with at least one death reported by a hospital in Southwest China's Sichuan Province and two dozen patients hospitalized in southern cities. 

Meteorological experts attributed the heat wave to worsening global warming and Typhoon Chaba, and they predicted that widespread hot weather will grip China for at least two more weeks.

The West China Hospital of Sichuan University in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, admitted three patients diagnosed with heat stroke on Sunday, with one man eventually dying of multiple organ failure, local media Red Star News reported on Tuesday. 

Critical conditions including multiple organ failure and bleeding of the digestive tract and other parts of the body appeared just a few hours after the man suffered a heat stroke, according to Yu Haifang, deputy director of the emergency department of the hospital. 

The patient was suffering from respiratory and cardiac arrest when he was transferred to the hospital and eventually died. 

Two other patients are still being treated in the ICU. Since they are both suffering from obvious coagulation disorders and multiple organ failures, they are receiving continuous bedside blood purification, liver protection, anti-infection medication and other treatments. 

The three patients are all men, and they are in their 20s, 40s and 60s. The two younger patients worked outdoors and the eldest suffered a heat stoke while cooking in a humid, hot kitchen. 

People with heat stroke may experience loss of consciousness, convulsions and other symptoms. If the person is not treated promptly, their nervous system, respiratory system, liver and kidneys will be damaged, and multiple organ failures often lead to death.

Characteristics of a patient with heat stroke include a body temperature exceeding 40 C with no sweat. The patient is also unconscious. 

In recent days, heat stroke cases have not only been reported in Sichuan, one of the warmest regions in China, but also in multiple southern Chinese cities. Several cities have set records for high temperatures and dozens of others have been baked in scorching temperatures. 

So far, 26 cases of heat stroke have been reported in Yuyao alone in East China's Zhejiang Province during this heat wave. 

As of Tuesday, the heat wave in some parts of China had lasted for 30 days since June 13. This heat wave has totally covered 5.02 million square kilometers and more than 900 million people in China, Shao Sun, a senior researcher at the National Climate Center affiliated with China Meteorological Administration, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The National Meteorological Center continued to issue an orange alert for high temperatures on Wednesday and predicted that in the next three days, regions such as Xinjiang, Sichuan and a large part of southern China will have temperatures reaching 35-38 C and in some areas exceeding 40 C.  

The top three hottest cities listed by the National Meteorological Center at 2 pm Wednesday were Sichuan Province's Gulan and Jinyun, and Yuyao in Zhejiang Province, with temperatures reaching 40.8 C, 40. 7 C, and 40.5 C, respectively. Media reports showed that Shanghai recorded a high of 40.9 C on Wednesday afternoon, the highest since 1873.

The worst heat wave in the past two months has come against a backdrop of increasing instability in the climate caused by global warming, and it is being directly triggered by abnormal atmospheric circulation. The heat wave is not only being seen in China. Temperatures in many countries in the Northern Hemisphere including Italy, France and Spain have at times surpassed 40 C since June, Sun noted. 

Typhoon Chaba has also contributed to the widespread heat wave in China this month.

Giant pandas cool off in a zoo in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality as they take showers and enjoy chilled fruit amid scorching weather on July 13, 2022. Photo: VCG

Giant pandas cool off in a zoo in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality as they take showers and enjoy chilled fruit amid scorching weather on July 13, 2022. Photo: VCG

To tackle climate change, China has formulated principles and measures and is contributing its solutions to global climate governance. 

Data provided by Sun showed that in addressing air pollution, cities at prefecture-level and above registered 87 percent "good" days in 2020 and the average density of PM2.5 in cities at prefecture-level and above that failed to meet the standard fell 28.8 percent from 2015. 

China has intensified afforestation and conversion of farmland to forests, with its forest coverage increasing from 18.2 percent in 2004 to 23.1 percent in 2021.

As part of efforts to address climate change, China has announced a goal to peak its carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and become carbon-neutral by 2060. Such commitments are built upon sound emission reduction achievements in recent years.

China has included slashing carbon intensity as a binding target in its recent five-year plans. The country's carbon intensity decreased by 16.3 percent from 2011 to 2015 and dropped 18.8 percent from 2016 to 2020, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Forecasters said that widespread hot weather is expected to continue for at least two more weeks. From July 21, an extreme heat wave is likely to hit more provinces such as East China's Fujian, Jiangxi and Zhejiang, with temperatures in some regions reaching 41 C, Sun told the Global Times.