The standoff between civil servants and the government reached its climax, with workers taking to…
Health workers in hazmat suits opened the doors to elderly citizens who tested positive for COVID in Shanghai, China, as part of their ruthless zero tolerance policy.
Elderly citizens are dragged from their beds in the middle of the night and transported to makeshift government quarantine facilities.
Watch the video above to learn more about China’s strict zero COVID policy
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The men arrived after 2 a.m. in the middle of the night on Tuesday, knocking on the door of an apartment in a dilapidated housing complex in Shanghai.
When no one answered, they opened the lock and burst in, dragging a 92-year-old woman out of her bed.
The visitors demanded to take the woman and her 74-year-old son to a quarantine center because, according to their records, both had tested positive for COVID five days earlier, on April 14.
When the old woman refused to go – she and her son had since tested negative – she was reportedly pulled from bed and dragged across the floor. Fearing the worst, her son helped her get dressed and agreed to comply.
The account of the events, told in a series of online posts by the woman’s granddaughter, Zhi Ye, a Shanghai-born and raised former journalist, sparked shock and fury on Chinese social media.
“There is no limit to cold-blooded cruelty and violence,” said the lead commentary under Zhi Publish on Weibo, the Chinese Twitter-like service.
Amid public outcry, the local government issued a statement Tuesday evening, confirming the late night transfer of the two elderly residents to a quarantine site.
He said police and neighborhood committee workers had asked a locksmith to open an exterior door to the apartment because they feared “an accident had happened” to its occupants.
The statement said the two elderly residents agreed to the transfer after contacting police officers and “voluntarily got out” to get into the car.
Zhi declined to be interviewed when contacted by CNN.
Zhi’s grandmother is among many elderly citizens in Shanghai who have been quarantined by the government in recent days, as authorities step up efforts to clear all positive cases from communities in a bid to end the pandemic. spread of COVID outside designated sites.
A patient at a quarantine center converted from a warehouse told CNN that a group of elderly people, some in wheelchairs, were transported to his facility from a nursing home on Monday evening.
Some seniors tried to push back. Several videos on social media show an elderly woman who appears to be out of her forties and attempts to enter the neighborhood compound.
She is seen walking around and arguing with COVID workers in hazmat suits, who are trying to persuade her to return to government premises.
CNN reached out to local officials for comment on the situation, but they did not return calls.
‘Without exception, deduction and delay’
The mass transfer came as Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, the country’s top COVID response official, pledged Monday to send anyone who tests positive for COVID and their close contacts to sites quarantine, “without exception, deduction and delay”. .
Sun said in an interview on Saturday that community transmission in Shanghai is expected to end soon and cases will only be detected in quarantine centers.
Shanghai officials are under enormous pressure to contain a raging Omicron epidemicwhich has infected more than 430,000 people despite weeks of strict mandatory home confinement.
Public discontent grew as locals struggled to get food and medical access.
The latest efforts to end community transmission have only sparked more anger.
Many fear that the elderly are not receiving proper care in makeshift isolation facilities, some of which are plagued by poor conditions, overcrowding as well as shortages of medical equipment, doctors and nurses. .
“For people aged 80 to 90, the risk of them being cross-infected and dying in these quarantine centers is much higher than having them stay home and self-isolate,” Yanzhong Huang said. , Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations.
“Many of these older people have chronic illnesses that require special care, which likely won’t be provided in quarantine centers.”
Chinese officials have long boasted that “zero-Covid” is saving lives, especially vulnerable groups like the elderly.
But some argue that by forcing older people into centralized quarantine, it poses a threat to the health and well-being of the very people the policy is meant to protect.
“The question is at what price? And does the end justify the means? Huang said.
“They forced the door”
In her social media posts, Zhi said her grandmother and uncle tested positive for COVID-19 by rapid antigen self-test on April 13.
They immediately informed the neighborhood committee, which sent workers for their nucleic acid tests the next day.
Both developed only a mild cough and had no fever, and by April 16 their antigen tests had returned negative results.
Then, on Monday afternoon, the neighborhood committee told them they would be moved to a makeshift quarantine facility.
Zhi was immediately worried – her grandmother suffers from high blood pressure and heart disease, while her uncle takes medicine daily for a recent prostate surgery.
Like many other Shanghai residents, Zhi took to social media for help.
“Please help me all share this! Please don’t take my 94-year-old grandmother to the quarantine center,” she pleaded in a lengthy post on WeChat. , which has gone viral. (Traditionally, Chinese age is calculated differently and can add up to two years to a person’s actual age.)
Then, at 2:47 a.m., Zhi received a brief phone call from his uncle.
“They forced the door open,” she heard him say, her voice barely audible above the noise.
When Zhi’s grandmother and uncle arrived at the isolation center after 4 a.m. Tuesday, it was already crowded with elderly people, some of them in wheelchairs, Zhi wrote in a later post.
There was no free bed available and they spent the rest of the night sitting in the hallway.
The next morning they were assigned to their beds and each was given a sleeping bag and a blanket.
Video from the health center obtained by CNN shows elderly people lying or sitting on beds lining a hallway and reception area, with wooden planks and thin sheets as bedding.
An elderly man who could barely walk is seen clinging to a wall as he walks in slow, tiny steps towards his bed.
The local government statement said medical staff at the quarantine center conducted a basic medical examination on Zhi’s grandmother and uncle, and “ensure that their health condition is normal.”
He acknowledged the shortage of beds and said healthcare workers would pay particular attention to elderly patients with underlying conditions.
The public attention seemed to pay off. Shortly before midnight Thursday, 45 hours after being taken away, Zhi’s grandmother and uncle were sent home after three negative COVID tests, Zhi wrote in an update on WeChat.
“I hope grandma and uncle can finally get a good night’s sleep without being disturbed again,” she wrote.
But many more older people remain in central quarantine, or are likely on the way as the campaign to end community transmission intensifies.
On Wednesday, Sun, the Deputy Prime Minister, tell the local authorities to come up with more targeted measures to deal with older neighborhoods and nursing homes that have reported high infections.
Authorities have been urged to step up on-site contact tracing, speed up the transfer of positive cases and close contacts to isolation, and quickly carry out disinfection, according to a Shanghai government statement.