need Chow Sang Ni A doctor, and soon. At the age of 49, she suffered an asthma attack, and her family drove her to Shanghai Dongfang Hospital to work as a nurse for emergency treatment. It was March 23, and Chinese cities were under strict Covid lockdowns.
However, when they arrived at the emergency room, Zhou’s family found that it had been closed for disinfection under Shanghai’s regulations to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. Urgently in need of medical attention, they had to drive to another hospital about 9 kilometers away. Died weeks later.
Zhou’s death sparks outrage Chinese social media, but this was not an isolated incident. The city-wide lockdown in Shanghai lasted for two months, with most restrictions lifted on June 1. But there has been little movement in those two months — including at the city’s hospitals, which have been hit by the sudden closure, with many providing services only in emergencies. Patients who need medical help are told to have a negative PCR test to get care.
From February to May, Shanghai health authorities reported 588 dead Related to Covid-19, the majority are elderly residents. But officials didn’t count people like Zhou, who may have died from the city’s lockdown restrictions.
Discussions about the collateral damage of China’s zero-coronavirus policy are heavily restricted in the country. Censors blocked comments from opponents of the pandemic strategy, including remarks by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. In China, however, censorship has not stopped people from finding technological solutions to express dissent.
April 14, a WeChat account called Shi You shared an article titled “Shanghai Dead”, which reported on people who appeared to have died in the city due to the draconian lockdown restrictions. The comment section of the article was quickly flooded with news from people who said they too had heard of or knew people who died during the lockdown.
Capser Yu immediately realized that the article and its comments were important. Yu, a Shanghai native now working in Singapore, has heard stories of people at home losing loved ones during the lockdown. One of the missing is a 3-year-old girl, Chen Xiangru, who was reportedly unable to receive treatment in time when she developed a severe fever in late March. Chen died in hospital while waiting for doctors to provide PCR test results needed for treatment.
Fearing that censors would hide key evidence, Yu began taking screenshots of WeChat articles. A few hours later, WeChat swiped the article. When the Chinese tried to open the article again, there was only one message left saying “Violation. “
Yu reposted the content on a blog he created called Real China to help his parents in Shanghai understand how news from China is reported overseas. Within hours, Chinese censors blocked the retweeted content.Yu said article, still accessible outside of China, was read by more than 20,000 people before being censored. After that, for unknown reasons, the link started working again, and by the end of June, had become the most read post on Yu’s blog.