Community workers on 24x7 ‘battle status’
A doctor checks a baby girl with help from her parents, quarantined in Minhang District.
It has been a busy Spring Festival holiday for 52-year-old Lei Aihui, Party secretary of the Fuding residential community in Chonggu Town, Qingpu District.
The community is home to 286 people who are Hubei Province natives. Among them, 34 are from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. Thirty-eight people are isolated at home and undergoing medical observation.
Lei’s busy schedule includes contacting residents to learn where they are, whether they have symptoms such as fever or cough, or have been to Hubei recently. She reports all information and attends meetings on pneumonia prevention.
“The community with six residential complexes has different kinds of properties such as relocation housing, old complexes and mixed communities with apartments and villas,” said Lei. “There are a large number of tenants and out-of-town residents, posing challenges to our work.”
“We have been on 24-hour alert since Chinese Lunar New Year’s Eve and are on first-level battle status,” she said.
Lei sent a message to a resident surnamed Guo during the holiday. Guo returned from his hometown Hubei on Chinese New Year’s Eve, January 24, with his family. His child developed fever after their return, causing a panic in the community.
The man was in hospital and did not accept calls from Lei.
“Maybe he is busy, maybe he does not want to take a call from an unfamiliar number, but I have to contact him. No choice,” said Lei.
She tried sending a message to Guo and was a bit nervous.
“I’ve learned that your child has a fever and want to know whether he is better now. Would you please give me a call and thank you for your understanding,” the message reads.
“Other residents have concerns, and it’s my duty to answer their concerns. At the same time, I need to take into account the sentiment of Hubei residents, who need our care and help more. A proper tone and attitude in communication is important in such a difficult period.”
Guo replied quickly, saying the family was at a hospital for tests, and Lei was relieved.
The child was diagnosed with a normal fever so Guo informed other residents via WeChat, easing their fears.
Lei also sent some vegetables to Guo’s family.
“There are different situations. Some residents have concerns of being infected when we visit them and talk with them; some do not take our calls; some tell lies.”
Sometimes, other methods are needed such as observing the lights of households at night, checking coming vehicles and using surveillance cameras, Lei said.
“It is our duty to eliminate every infection hazard and ensure a safe environment for all residents in the community,” she said.
Lei has not had any rest for days and even had Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner at office. She arrived at home after 11pm and left before 7am. Even at home, she has to check her phone constantly for new information.
Lei and her colleagues also promote prevention knowledge among residents and inform them to take precautions.
People undergoing medical observation at home in the community have their temperatures taken every day by staff from health centers and Lei needs to follow the situation closely.
“It’s a very special Spring Festival. I feel sad when seeing the streets empty. The buses have no passenger, and the lights at normally bustling businesses are off,” Lei said. “I hope everything can go back to normal quickly.”
At Caozhong Village in Meilong Town, Minhang District, Party Secretary Tang Aibin and his colleagues have taken turns on duty since the Chinese New Year’s Eve.
“After hearing about the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, we launched a comprehensive inspection in the village to learn where local residents are from, where they are now and their health conditions,” said Tang.
He said the village hosts more than 250 people from Hubei Province, who usually return to their hometowns for family reunions during the Spring Festival.
“We visited their homes in Shanghai and called them to double check their locations and ask those in Hubei to stay at home for health concerns and postpone their return trips to Shanghai if possible,” he said. Cars with plates issued in Hubei were also key targets of their investigation.
Tang said a car registered in Anhui Province came to their notice when it entered the village on the first day of the Chinese Lunar Year.
“According to their registered information, we know that the car owner is an Anhui man running a drugstore in the village, but his wife is from a village in Huanggang City, Hubei, and they had a baby last year,” he said.
Further investigation found that the couple, in their 20s, returned to Hubei before the Spring Festival to register the baby’s information with authorities there. They returned as the epidemic erupted and also brought along the wife’s younger brother.
As the family arrived in Shanghai late at night, officials stayed in their car and waited till morning to persuade them to stay at home for 14 days of quarantine.
“They were very cooperative and agreed immediately,” said Tang.
The village arranges medical staff to take the temperatures of the family members on a daily basis.
The village officials now visit the family every day to get to know their conditions and comfort them if necessary. They deliver basic necessities, such as vegetables, fruit and milk, since the family cannot go out for shopping. Their car and the area surrounding their two-story building are also disinfected every day.
“We are so thankful to the officials and we will cooperate with them to stay at home for quarantine. What they are doing is to ensure our health,” said the man’s father when Shanghai Daily reporters followed village officials on a visit.
“We believe our government has taken proper measures and will finally win the fight against the virus.”
Tang said the village now has three families with 11 people from Hubei quarantined at home in total and the same measures have been taken at the other two households.
“Epidemic prevention is not only in Hubei or in hospitals,” he said. “We all have responsibility to do our part.”