Diary of a Journalist: My Conversation with a COVID Patient Recovered in Shanghai

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Li Jing, 34, received a call from the local Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on March 27 and was told that his PCR test result was abnormal.

He was then moved to a temporary 6,000-bed hospital, which was once an exhibition center.

I first noticed him on the social media app Douyin, where he shared his life at the exhibition center. I then messaged her for an interview request as there were a lot of questions and arguments about temporary hospitals. As a journalist, I also wanted to know what it was like inside these facilities.

Surprisingly, he said “yes” without much hesitation and our conversation started very quickly.

“Medical workers escorted me there around noon on March 28,” Li said. “There were seven of us in the ambulance and we were transferred to a bigger bus and waited for two and a half hours.”

Li said they had to wait for more COVID-19 cases in the district so they could all be sent to the temporary hospital across the Huangpu River together.

Li’s number at the temporary hospital was H1-08-109, which stands for Hall One, Section 8, Number 109. Li said on his social media that his understanding of the number was “Hi, 08109.”

Several sports stadiums and exhibition centers in Shanghai have been urgently converted into temporary hospitals to receive mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, which China proved effective in reducing virus transmission two years ago. in Wuhan.

Li received a bracelet with a QR code on it. He said that many people may not know where their beds are because the exhibition center is too big, and that’s when they need the QR code to ask for room. aid to doctors.

“I think the hospital did a great job with the food,” Li said during our first conversation. And it’s the same experience as many other patients who have shared their food on social media. They receive three meals a day with two meat dishes and two types of vegetables at each meal.

But according to Li, the toilets in the exhibition center could be a problem. “There are enough toilets, but the seats are pretty bad,” he said. “They’re working on that, but it could still be a big problem here.”

As one of the first temporary hospitals in the city, the exhibition center had no showers. The authorities noticed this problem and started to build shower rooms in the following temporary hospitals.

The living conditions are nothing to worry about for Li since most patients could leave the hospital in about a week. Once you have two negative tests within 24 hours you are free to go. The patients inside joked that the first test was a mid-term exam and the second a final exam.

And Li didn’t pass his final exam the first time. He tested positive a week later, which meant he had to start all over again.

Four days later, doctors told him his last test had come back negative and he was ready to go home. He then began wrapping and editing his final vlog in the temporary hospital. He said the last part of the vlog would be him hugging his wife and son when they get together.

However, as he was about to walk out the hospital door three days later, a nurse stopped him and said his last test came back positive.

“I feel extremely hopeless,” Li told me that day, adding that her phone’s online app showed a negative result, but the hospital computer showed a positive result instead.

Li didn’t know what was wrong, but doctors worked overtime to enter the information manually after discovering something was wrong with the system.

“The doctors explained their difficulties that afternoon and I felt a little better,” Li said.

Li again tested negative twice over the next three days and was finally able to return home after 21 days in the temporary hospital. He said his return trip went well. All he needed to show the community guardian was his hospital discharge documentation.

“After you test negative twice, the hospital will notify the local CDC, then notify your neighborhood, saying they have a recovered patient ready to go home, and please arrange a car to pick him up,” Li said.

He said he had also heard some patients complain that their communities would simply not respond after receiving the notice, causing them to wait longer than expected. Authorities urged on April 26 at a press conference that communities put no obstacles in the way of the return of recovered patients.

Being reunited with his family turned out not to be so emotional. In the video Li shared with me, his son painted a simple design on the door and his wife silently cut off his hospital bracelet.

Li has been home for a week now and is now back at work. Thousands of people are discharged from the city’s hospitals every day. And many will soon be back to work as businesses gradually reopen.

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