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Shanghai hospitals overwhelmed by influx of patients

Hospitals in Shanghai, China’s economic capital, are overwhelmed with elderly patients infected with Covid-19 in emergency departments, immersed in the noise of coughing, groaning and wheezing.

Three years after the first cases of the new coronavirus were diagnosed in the Chinese city of Wuhan, China is facing a wave of cases, after having suddenly abolished the ‘zero cases’ policy last month.

These restrictions, which have allowed most Chinese people not to be exposed to the virus since 2020, have caused growing frustration among the population and have shaken economic activity.

In Shanghai, one of China’s richest cities, the situation is particularly critical. Within a month, about 70 percent of the population, or around 18 million people, had contracted the virus, according to state media.

In two hospitals in the city, the agency France Presse yesterday saw hundreds of patients, mostly elderly, lying on stretchers, arranged in the corridors of saturated emergency services. Many are receiving saline infusions or hooked up to oxygen cylinders or heart monitors.

Most are wrapped in blankets and dressed in thick coats or bonnets. Some patients seem to have no life. Others are seen outside the building, on the sidewalk, due to lack of space inside the facility.

At Huashan Hospital, near the site where protests broke out in November against the ‘zero cases’ policy of covid-19, a woman bends over a patient in her 80s who is receiving infusions of serum.

Nearby, a young man stands by the bedside of another elderly patient and somehow protects him from the comings and goings of the crowd that roams the place.

In a waiting room at Tongren Hospital in western Shanghai, a nurse places a tube connected to an oxygen bottle between a patient’s dry lips. A doctor protected by a visor takes care of an elderly woman, who is shivering under a thick blanket.

Faced with the influx of patients, doctors infected with covid-19 continue to work tirelessly with their patients, according to testimonies collected by the AFP in hospitals across the country. Shanghai is no exception. Intermittently, the nursing staff lets out a dry cough.

By the authorities’ own admission, the extent of the epidemic is now impossible to determine, screening tests are no longer mandatory and data is fragmented.

Soon, the health system was overwhelmed, fever drugs sold out in pharmacies, while crematoriums were overwhelmed with the influx of bodies.

China’s National Health Commission has stopped publishing daily case and death figures. This is now up to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which, starting next week, will update only once a month.

Authorities also revised the criteria for attributing deaths to covid-19. Since the beginning of December, only 15 deaths have been registered in the country, which has 1.4 billion inhabitants, but these numbers seem completely out of step with the reality observed on the ground.

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Generalist media, focusing on the relationship between Portuguese-speaking countries and China.

Plataforma Studio


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