Families in Shanghai, China are calling for an investigation into an elderly care hospital after multiple patients were left to die.
As an escalating outbreak in Shanghai, deaths at a hospital for elderly patients highlight the dangerous consequences of China’s stubborn pursuit of a zero-COVID approach.
The Associated Press has learned that several patients have died at the Shanghai Donghai Elderly Care hospital. As a result of the strict pandemic regulations, caregivers who came into contact with the virus were removed to be quarantined, depleting the staff at the hospital.
Social media has been flooded with requests for help and answers from family members. Having received no information from the hospital, they are asking to view surveillance video from within the hospital.
As China deals with the outbreak in Shanghai in which most of the infected people don’t show symptoms, the conditions at the hospital are a direct rebuke of its zero-COVID policy.
With a focus on forcing positive cases and close contacts into designated facilities for collective quarantine, the costs of zero-COVID may outweigh the risk of falling ill.
Elderly Care Patients Die
After another round of citywide COVID-19 testing, Shanghai Vice Mayor Zong Ming said the city-wide lockdown could soon be lifted or eased in communities with no positive cases within 14 days.
Shen Peiming, 71, was one of those victims of harsh measures. She died in the hospital on Sunday morning without any relatives present. Despite contacting the hospital non-stop to inquire about Shen’s death, the family has not received a clear answer.
Since 2020, how many lockdowns have taken place? Does anyone have experience managing these situations?” the family member said.
The only thing they know is that Shen’s doctor and nurses failed to provide care to her after she suffered a stroke. A relative on condition of anonymity said that her last nursing assistant was quarantined because she was in close contact with a positive case.
Her death was announced by an unknown worker. The hospital later reported that she had died from a chest infection.
Last week, the family heard the hospital had a COVID-19 outbreak, but Shen had tested negative.
Hospital Silent over Elderly Care Deaths
In Shanghai, no deaths have been reported due to this outbreak, but questions have been raised about the reliability of the data. Under the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the topic, an anonymous city health official said that the criteria for confirmed cases and deaths are very strict and susceptible to political interference.
The number of deaths at the geriatric hospital and whether any were caused by COVID-19 is unknown. Family members say they are in contact with other families whose relatives have also passed away.
China news outlet Caixin removed an article detailing the deaths and infections shortly after publication, apparently being targeted by censors.
No one answered the phone at Donghai Elderly Care’s geriatric office. In response to a faxed comment request, the Shanghai government did not respond.