A Shanghai district government said five officials were punished and a doctor’s license revoked after a widely circulated video showed funeral home workers bringing a body bag containing a living person to a retirement home.
The mistake occurred as China prepared new hospital facilities to cope with a possible spikeeven if the number of new cases remains low.
In Sunday’s incident, two funeral home employees in protective suits brought a yellow body bag from a hearse. They then opened the bag and appeared to show a health worker from the Xinchangzheng Nursing Home that the person was still alive. He or she was then quickly returned to the home.
The incident sparked outrage on Chinese social media, with people questioning the reliability of the social welfare system during the protracted lockdown. A commentator on the social media site Weibo said it was a sign of the “chaos” happening in Shanghai, the BBC News reported.
Former chief editor of the state-run news outlet Hu Xijing called the incident a “gross disregard of duty that nearly resulted in death,” BBC News reported.
The government of the Putuo district where the nursing home is located said Monday in a statement that the person in the video was treated in the hospital and has stable vital signs.
State media reported that a 1,000-bed hospital in Xiaotangshan, in the northeastern suburb, built for the 2003 SARS outbreak, has been refurbished if necessary.
City officials also announced Saturday that they were setting up a 10,000-bed quarantine facility in the sprawling China National Exhibition Center to house those who tested positive and their close contacts.
However, no more has been said about those plans and reports have largely disappeared, a possible sign that officials are trying to avoid spreading further fears in an already crisis-ridden city.
New cases in Beijing remained stable, with another 62 reported on Tuesday, 11 of them symptom-free, up slightly from about 50 per day over the weekend. Beijing reported about 450 cases in the 2-week outbreak.
China has adhered to its strict “zero-COVID” approach which restricts travel, tests entire cities and establishes sprawling facilities to try and isolate every infected person. Blockages start with buildings and neighborhoods, but become city-wide if the virus spreads widely.
Beijing has isolated some communities, but avoided sweeping city-wide measures seen elsewhere.
This is a possible reflection of the desire to maintain an outward calm in the city which more than anything else symbolizes the Communist Party’s undisputed domination over the vast country. The urgency is particularly critical in a year when President Xi Jinping is seeking a groundbreaking third five-year term as party leader, despite concerns over the return of the single government.
Xi has closely identified himself and the party with “zero-COVID”, making it politically impossible to abandon the approach, even as many other countries relax restrictions on the pandemic and experts question their usefulness, saying vaccines and new treatments for COVID-19 make it unnecessary.
Beijing has ordered the closure of restaurants and gyms for the May Day national holiday that will last until Wednesday, while the city’s main tourist sites, including the Forbidden City and Beijing Zoo, will close their indoor exhibition halls starting from Tuesday. Schools are closed indefinitely, even as senior students prepare for crucial exams.
Three more rounds of tests have been ordered for most of the city’s 21 million people as of Tuesday, following a similar requirement last week. A negative test result obtained within the previous 48 hours is required to access most public spaces.
Meanwhile, Shanghai authorities are slowly starting to loosen lockdown restrictions that have confined most of the city’s 26 million people to their apartments, housing estates or immediate surroundings for nearly a month, and in some cases even longer. long.
Shanghai reported another 5,669 cases on Tuesday, all but 274 asymptomatic, along with 20 other deaths. China’s largest city, home to its main stock market and largest port, recorded a daily spike of 27,605 new cases nearly three weeks ago on April 13.
Shanghai’s surprisingly low death toll amid an outbreak of more than 400,000 cases has raised questions about how those deaths are being counted.
The severe lockdown conditions have led to massive disruptions, including food shortages and a wider, though likely temporary, impact on the national economy. Desperate and outraged citizens confronted authorities on barricades and online, screamed from their windows and slammed pots and pans in their frustration and anger.