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An elderly man in Shanghai was mistaken for dead and taken to the morgue in a body bag. Footage of the incident, which sparked widespread anger on social media, is the latest sign of how local authorities are struggling to contain the latest wave of COVID cases in the country’s biggest city.
A short video shot by a bystander appears to show two mortuary employees loading a yellow body bag into a vehicle outside the Shanghai Xinchangzheng welfare hospital.
The employees, two of them wearing hazmat suits, at one point can be seen unzipping the bag, which had been loaded into a truck outside the hospital, a nursing home in the Changzheng township of Putuo.
When they realize that the person in the bag is alive, one of the employees seems to take a step back in shock.
The patient, whose identity hasn’t been released, is a resident of the nursing home, according to the South China Morning Post.
He has since been taken back to the care facility and is said to be in stable condition.
On Sunday, a video of the incident went viral on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo.
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The person who filmed it can be heard saying, “The nursing home is such a mess. They sent a living person on a hearse and said they were dead. The undertaker staff said they were still moving … It is irresponsible, really irresponsible,” according to CNN.
On Monday, the Putuo district government confirmed the incident and announced that it would conduct an investigation.
Six officials, including the director of the facility, have been fired, according to local media.
The blunder sparked a new wave of outrage coming from many Shanghai residents, who are already on edge at the mitigation measures put in place since March 28 to control the spread of the omicron variant.
Shanghai is now in its fifth week of strict COVID lockdowns and restrictions, which ban many residents from leaving their homes. Some complain that they have no access to basic goods, including food.
Last week, the government announced that 5.27 million residents were still in “sealed and controlled zones,” and subject to the strictest lockdown measures.
Cases in the city of nearly 25 million began spiking again in March, even as Chinese authorities still seem committed to a “zero COVID” policy.