Health officials in China have sent more than 38,000 health workers to Shanghai as the city of around 26 million remains in a prolonged lockdown following a roaring outbreak of the ultra-transmissible variant of the omicron coronavirus .
The megacity, which functions as China’s financial hub, entered a two-stage lockdown on March 28 that was originally scheduled to end on April 5. But with nearly the entire city still confined to their homes or quarantine centers, officials say the lockdown will continue. .
“The city will continue to implement seal and check management and strictly enforce ‘stay at home’ except for medical care,” the Shanghai government said on its official WeChat account, according to Reuters. There was no indication when the lockdown would be lifted.
On Sunday, China announced more than 13,000 cases of COVID-19, a 143% jump in the past two weeks and a record for the country. Of those cases, Shanghai had just over 9,000 – the city tallied 8,581 asymptomatic cases and 425 symptomatic cases as of Sunday.
Now city officials are scrambling to continue mass testing, sending health workers door-to-door to rule out cases. People who test positive or who are close contacts of cases are sent to mass quarantine facilities across the city. Reuters reporters in Shanghai reported residents’ frustration with overcrowded conditions at quarantine facilities, where they fear the virus could spread further. There are also reports of distraught parents who were separated from their young children after testing positive.
The reporters spoke to Esther Zhao, whose 2-year-old daughter was taken to a quarantine center after they both tested positive for COVID-19 in a hospital. Zhao spoke to Reuters reporters from the hospital on Saturday. “There were no pictures at all…I’m so anxious, I have no idea what my daughter’s situation is,” she said with tears in her eyes. According to Zhao, doctors at the hospital told him that city rules state that “children should be sent to designated points, adults to quarantine centers, and you are not allowed to accompany children.” .
According to posts on Chinese social media WeChat, children as young as 3 months old are separated from their breastfeeding mothers. A poster called the policy “awful”.
Meanwhile, there are also reports of exhausted health workers trying to manage quarantine centers and overwhelmed hospitals.
According to the official Xinhua news agency, more than 38,000 health workers have been deployed from all over China to help eradicate cases in Shanghai. More than 11,000 will be sent to support hospitals, while more than 23,000 will help collect samples from residents for mass testing. The other 4,000 or so will help process samples in the testing labs.