China health officials hiding 'true extent of Covid outbreak with hearses removing bodies in the night'

Orderlies report seeing hearses taking away deceased elderly patients in the middle of the night

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Shanghai officials have been accused of hiding the true extent of the city’s Covid-19 outbreak as they say infections are easing, but plunge residents into an extended lockdown.

It comes amid reports that people have died from the virus in elderly hospitals, but no covid-related deaths have been reported.

Orderlies of China’s largest hospital for the elderly, Donghai Elderly Care Hospital, have come forward to say bodies are being taken away in hearses in the night and that infections are in their hundreds.

One worker said they saw six hearses parked outside the hospital gates at night, while another told The Wall Street Journal he had to dress a patient who had died on Monday night after being infected with Covid-19.

They claim at least 100 patients have tested positive for coronavirus in recent days.

A worker in a protective suit shows a QR code to residents lining up for nucleic acid testing, as the second stage of a two-stage lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) begins in Shanghai, China
A worker in a protective suit shows a QR code to residents lining up for nucleic acid testing, as the second stage of a two-stage lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) begins in Shanghai, China
Police and security members in protective suits stand outside cordoned off food stores following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Shanghai, China
Police and security members in protective suits stand outside cordoned off food stores following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Shanghai, China

An unverified account on the social media channel Weibo, said newly employed orderlies were shocked when arrived and realised the number of infections at the hospital. It added many have demanded their contacts be terminated.

The Chinese government extended its lockdown in eastern districts of the city yesterday just as western areas were shut down as scheduled, putting 26million people on lockdown.

Public transport in the city has been suspended and shopping centres and restaurants have closed.

Shanghai, China city landscape
Shanghai, China city landscape

Economic indicators are already showing how the outbreak could derail the Chinese economy as factory capacity has also slumped.

A closely watched measure of output – the Caixin/Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) – fell from 50.4 in February to 48.1 in March, indicating the steepest rate of contraction since February 2020.

Economists at Morgan Stanley cut China’s economic growth forecast for this year sharply, while Citigroup warned of risks to the second-quarter outlook.

Trinh Nguyen, senior economist at Natixis in Hong Kong, told The Guardian China’s zero-Covid policy was now the biggest risk to the Chinese economy and predicted worse was still to come.

She said: “April is going to be horrible with the Shanghai lockdown extended and this will reverberate regionally and globally as it impacts both demand and supply.”