Shanghai’s Low Covid Death Toll Revives Questions About China’s Numbers

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This month, a prominent Shanghai physician, Miao Xiaohui, estimated that the number of excess diabetes deaths could reach nearly 1,000 by the end of his city’s lockdown. His estimate was based on the Wuhan excess mortality study, which, in addition to tracking Covid deaths, also showed that deaths from noncommunicable diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, were 21 percent higher than expected during that city’s lockdown.

“Why can’t we consider a middle road” between zero Covid and living with the virus, Dr. Miao wrote in a blog post.

The post was censored.

As the epidemic escalated in early March, staff members at Shanghai Putuo People’s Hospital were sent to conduct multiple rounds of community testing. They worked long hours, with few breaks, according to two people with knowledge of the conditions, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation.

A nurse in the general surgery department, surnamed Ma, began feeling unwell, developing purple patches on her skin, according to the two people, who asked for her not to be identified by her full name. Ms. Ma, 40, was eventually diagnosed with acute aplastic anemia, which causes the body to stop producing enough blood cells. While it is not clear exactly what caused the condition, doctors linked her sickness to exhaustion, the people said. On April 6, she died.

Asked about Ms. Ma’s death, a staff member who answered the phone at the hospital said she had no information.

Neighborhood officials, responsible for overseeing locked-down streets, have also staggered under their workloads. Recordings said to be of phone calls between residents and officials, in which the officials express frustration or helplessness, have circulated widely online.


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