Recently, a COVID-19 outbreak was reported in Heze city, Shandong province. 

According to Sohu, the Heze intercity buses have been suspended since July 26 until further notice due to epidemic prevention and control reasons. The 2022 Medical Technical and Professional Competency Examination in Heze, originally scheduled to be held on July 26-27 and July 29-30, has also been postponed.

On July 27, social media reported on the plight of people in Cao district, Shandong province, amid the epidemic. One resident posted on Twitter, “Every day, no matter wind, rain or scorching sun, people are forced to queue for hours to take the nucleic acid test pointlessly. (Anti-epidemic staff) no longer have any humanity left due to their own sake!”.

The image posted was a screenshot, supposedly by a breastfeeding mother. Many cars can be seen queuing on the roadside, in the background.

The desperate text in the screenshot reads, “This is Cao district and I cannot go home. My baby is still waiting at home to be breastfed. The epidemic prevention staff are too stubborn to isolate this mother on the road… unable to go back home or to a hotel because they do not allow people from Cao in. What should I do?”

A medical disaster

This time, Shandong, China, not only made it to the cover because of the people’s nightmare due to the anti-epidemic measures but also spread another shocking information. It seems there are not only humanitarian disasters but also medical disasters.

On July 20, a person posted a video showing many women manually packing nucleic acid test cotton swabs in a spacious office. The person who posted the footage described that these women look like rural people in Heze, Shandong. 

This Tweeter user sarcastically said: “They may have just gone to the toilet! They don’t wear masks, they hold each cotton swab with their bare hands and put them in a plastic bag. While laughing and talking happily, they must have spit out a lot of salivae”.

Chinese news and information content platform Toutiao also posted this video and asked, Where would this batch of cotton swabs go? Why were they not machine-packed and then sterilized? Aren’t the nucleic acid sampling requirements very strict?

The media also reported that on Douyin (the Chinese version of Tik Tok) there are cotton swabs sold for 1 cent. “Cotton swabs are usually used to pick up ear wax or put on wounds, not to clean shoes, right? Therefore, we don’t know if there is any effect of cotton swabs that are made this way”, the article added.

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