Credit…Aly Song/Reuters

The spike in Covid cases across China, driven by the highly transmissible variant of Omicron, is straining hospitals and locking down neighborhoods in Shanghai, which until recently was considered a crown jewel in the world. the government’s strategy to fight the pandemic.

Shanghai, China’s largest city, has seen few cases until recently. Now it is reporting more than 1,500 a day, and many locals are expressing anguish and dismay at China’s zero-tolerance approach to the virus.

On Friday, anger and grief erupted online after a Shanghai hospital confirmed reports that a nurse working there, Zhou Shengni, had died of an asthma attack after finding the doors of her ward emergency closed due to Covid restrictions.

“Due to pandemic prevention needs, our hospital’s South Campus emergency department has been temporarily closed,” Shanghai East Hospital said. says on his site. Ms Zhou’s family rushed her to another hospital, but she died late Wednesday after “attempts to save her failed”, Shanghai East said.

“Think about it, it happened in Shanghai, and it was a medical worker treated like that,” read one of the many comments about Ms Zhou’s treatment. dead on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform. “And ordinary people? Not only in Shanghai, but also in other regions.

The outbreak has fueled a growing debate in China over whether the government should rethink its strict ‘zero Covid’ strategy of eradicating all infections with relentless force, rather than finding a way to deal with rising levels. infection rates, as most countries have done.

But officials across China have given no indication that the government is reworking its strategy. Instead, they insist that any easing of restrictions could exacerbate the spike in infections and further strain the medical system.

“We hope everyone is slowing down their lives right now, reducing going out and traveling,” said Wu Jinglei, director of the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission. said at a press conference Thursday. “The prevention of pandemics in our city has entered the most critical phase.”

On Friday, the Shanghai Health Commission reported that he had identified 1,609 cases of Covid the day before, including 1,580 asymptomatic. China has recorded more than 29,000 cases so far in March. This represents a significant spike for the country, which has kept case numbers low since quashing the world’s first outbreak, which began in the city of Wuhan, in 2020.

The current outbreak has put a strain on Shanghai’s medical system as hospitals and isolation hotels are packed with patients, residents said on social media. The city government started publish a daily list of hospital clinics who suspended outpatient and elective treatments and surgeries in order to deal with Covid cases.

Zhang Wenhong, a top infectious disease expert in Shanghai, told residents on Thursday to be patient as authorities scrambled to curb the outbreak.

“All of a sudden, medical resources are stretched thin” in Shanghai, Dr Zhang wrote in a long post on Weibo. “If we don’t counteract its speed with our own, we will have no chance of beating the Omicron race,” he wrote, adding that the government should step up its vaccination campaign.

Under his post, many commentators urged China to rethink its approach to the virus.

“Draining social resources, degrading the quality of life and existence, hampering economic development and urban vitality – where is the meaning of this pandemic prevention,” wrote one commentator. “The zero infection strategy needs to be rethought.”