Reports: Shanghai Patients Die as Coronavirus Lockdown Blocks Vital Medical Care

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Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Monday cited anguished social media posts from Shanghai residents whose relatives died because the brutal coronavirus lockdown imposed on the city three weeks ago prevented them from receiving vital medical care.

RFA noted Shanghai hospitals are devoting all of their resources to coronavirus testing and turning away patients who need other care, including life-saving treatments like kidney dialysis and cancer chemotherapy.

“I keep seeking out the neighborhood committee and the municipal government, but they tell me they can’t get him into Jiading Central Hospital, and that we can’t come in. I said, so does that mean he has to stay home and wait for death?” desperate Shanghai resident Wang Zhumin said after seeking dialysis for her 77-year-old father.

Wang said her father needs three dialysis treatments per week but has now gone for seven days without one. She was left to wander the city looking for a facility that could provide care, spending entire days in the waiting rooms without seeing “hide nor hair of a doctor.”

The Associated Press

A medical worker conducts coronavirus tests for residents after a confirmed case was found in the community on Sunday, April 10, 2022, in Shanghai. (AP Photo/Chen Si)

RFA found Shanghai social media filled with pleas for “help from somewhere, anywhere.” Some of those people died without the help they desperately needed:

Shen Ruiyin, a 77-year- old Shanghai resident, died on the evening of March 28 due to heart failure caused by going without kidney dialysis for a prolonged period. His son Shen Li took to Weibo to complain that his father had been transferred between three difference hospitals after testing positive for COVID-19 on March 26.

He died alone in the hospital, with no family at his side, without the medication he needed, and with no dialysis, Shen Li wrote.

Qi Guoyong, a 79 -year-old Shanghai resident, lost his wife Zhang Siling at the end of March.

“I am very saddened by the death of my wife, but I can’t do anything about it,” Qi told RFA. “I hope the hospital can give me some kind of answer … I just want them to give me an explanation.”

RFA also found asthma patients who died after they were refused treatment, and severely or terminally ill patients told to wait weeks for urgent procedures. These ill patients and their caregivers must additionally deal with the shortages of food overwhelming Shanghai. According to Taiwanese media, some 30 million Chinese truck drivers have been stranded on the roads due to lockdowns, many of them carrying loads of food and medicine.

Shanghai’s imprisoned population has turned to crowdsourcing medical care from each other, using social media to ask for medical advice, tips for navigating the city’s panicked bureaucracy, and pointers for finding much-needed medication. 

Reuters on Tuesday reported on a man who was able to use chat rooms to locate a pharmacy that could supply his father’s medicine. Other members of the chat were even able to help get the medicine delivered to him.


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