The sacrifice behind miraculous Shijiazhuang citywide tests of 11m

Shijiazhuang: As dozens of Chinese cities are fighting sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks, with a number of cities conducting mass tests on all their residents in a very short time, several sudden deaths of anti-epidemic officials and volunteers have aroused concern about the physical and mental stress on frontline epidemic prevention workers.
“Several hours of sleep a day, no time to eat, we are indeed too exhausted. The sudden deaths of frontline anti-epidemic staff have made us a little worried,” a frontline anti-epidemic worker in worst-hit Shijiazhuang, North China’s Hebei Province, told the Global Times.
Amid the recent COVID-19 outbreak occurring in Hebei, only three days were needed for its capital Shijiazhuang to complete nucleic acid tests on all residents, more than 10 million people.
Since the first confirmed local cases were reported in Shijiazhuang on January 2, the city has completed two rounds of citywide testing from January 6 to 8 and January 12 to 14. More than 822 confirmed cases have been reported in Hebei Province, with 771 being from Shijiazhuang as of Tuesday.
What achieved such amazing test efficiency is the devotion of thousands of frontline anti-epidemic staff working day and night.
On January 7, 55-year-old Li Ruizhi, a part-time worker from the local community, felt unwell suddenly and fainted on her working post when assisting with nucleic acid testing. She died of a heart attack two hours later.
It was -13 C, one of the coldest days in Shijiazhuang this winter. Within a week, another two frontline anti-epidemic staffers died suddenly due to overwork in Shijiazhuang and Dalian, Northeast China’s Liaoning Province. “As far as I know, many grassroots community workers have been carrying Quick-Acting Heart Reliever, Compound Danshen Dripping Pills on hand, which are common medicines to address sudden heart trouble and hypertensive medication,” Zhan Qi (pseudonym), a grassroots anti-epidemic worker who was part of the two rounds of testing in Shijiazhuang, told the Global Times. The communities Zhan served had more than 6,000 residents in total. Testing officially started at 8:30 am every day, and medical workers had to get up at 4 am and attend training at 5 am. They had breakfast at around 6 am and then made preparations, going to their assigned communities to conduct nucleic acid testing until 4 pm before having lunch. After a two-hour lunch break, the medical staff was transferred to another community to continue the testing until late night.
Zhan knew the timeline in detail because she was on the front line all the time helping to ensure testing was going smoothly.
Choosing open places for testing, coordinating hospitals, medical staff and volunteers, organizing residents, transporting anti-epidemic materials and even dealing with medical waste, grassroots anti-epidemic community workers have done much more beyond what one could imagine behind the scenes, which can be easily ignored, medical experts said.
“On average, 120 samples can be collected per hour. The first two days of the first round were very tiring, as people were not familiar with the working procedures in the beginning. Our work was smoother later, particularly in the second round of city-wide testing,” Zhan said.
After a whole day of sample collecting work, grassroots anti-epidemic workers and volunteers had to compile and record residents’ test information.
In the first round of testing, residents’ information was recorded by hand at the testing site and copied onto a paper form with 10 people in a group, which was then put into a computer spreadsheet.
– The Daily Mail-Global Times News exchange item