A medical worker at a Covid-19 nucleic acid testing booth takes a swab sample from a resident for a Covid-19 nucleic acid test on August 22, 2022 in Zhengzhou, China’s Henan Province. It has been a summer that has seen record breaking heat across the globe. China’s health workers have been particularly affected, enduring brutal heat waves wrapped head to toe in protective clothing as they continue to test the mass population for Covid-19 amid a seemingly endless series of outbreaks.
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It has been a summer that has seen record breaking heat across the globe.
China’s health workers have been particularly affected, enduring relentlessly heat waves wrapped head to toe in protective clothing as they continue to test the mass population for it covid19, amid a seemingly endless series of explosions.
Dressed in hazmat suits known locally as the “Great White”, the army of workers responsible for implementing China’s Zero-Covid policies for much of this year have been toiled in temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
“The internal situation is airtight,” Joshua Liu, a health worker from Shanghai, told NBC News by phone last month. “Once the suit is on, we can’t eat, drink or go to the toilet.”
The workers are “soaked in sweat” and “their fingers and palms are wrinkled” when they take them off, said Liu who helped medical staff collect Covid test samples and record residents’ information.
“I can feel my skin breathing and sweating,” he said. “Every day when I finally get off work, all I want to do is take a shower and fall asleep.”
The use of “Big White” was brought sharply into the spotlight last month when a video of nurse Chunhua Xie lying on an emergency room bed with her limbs shaking went viral on Chinese social media after it was released by officials in Nanchang County in eastern Jiangxi Province.
Wearing the protective suit, Chunhua had been undergoing tests for Covid for several days at the Nanchang County People’s Hospital when she suffered from heat stroke and fainted, the caption on the video said. The temperature was just over 100 degrees outside the facility at the time, the video said.
Although she later recovered, the video sparked an online backlash and was later removed by officials.
But by then it had been widely shared and viewed by millions of people on WeiboChina’s largest microblogging site and other social media channels, where some accused the government of incompetence.
A neat look
The “big white” has become a regular sight at Covid testing sites after health workers followed guidelines on protective clothing issued by China’s National Health Commission in January 2020, shortly after the outbreak. The spread of Covid in the city of Wuhan.
In Shanghai, Liu said he and his colleagues regularly wore long body-covering clothing Shanghai’s two-month Covid lockdown between March and May, when authorities, following China’s uncompromising “zero Covid” policy, closed schools, shopping malls, convenience stores and gyms and halted bus, subway and ferry services in the city.
During the more localized lockdowns of neighborhoods in the following months, when residents were barred from leaving and entering their apartments without permission, Liu said he and his colleagues helped conduct mass testing and contact tracing, also helping in implementation strict quarantine requirements.
But with the arrival of the summer months, the temperatures beyond China began to rise and the mercury regularly hit 100 degrees in Shanghai. So far temperatures of 104 degrees have been hit seven times in the mall of 25 million, surpassing the record of five days hit in 2013.
As a result, heatstroke started trending on Chinese social media as people discussed symptoms that include headaches, vomiting and fever, or in more serious cases people can go into convulsions or coma.
For Janice Ho, a postdoctoral fellow at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, it was a “good thing” that people were looking for the term because it helped them “be more aware that heat actually has implications for death.”
The moment the body’s core temperature reaches 100 degrees, “your organs will start to fail because it’s too hot to function and your body can stop regulating itself,” added Ho, whose research focuses on heat and public health. . “That’s when it becomes fatal. It’s too dangerous to end up dying from it.”
Several deaths have already been attributed to the extreme heat, including that of a 56-year-old construction worker in the city of Xi’an. Admitted to the hospital with a body temperature of 109.4 degrees, he died of multiple organ failure and severe heatstroke in July, the state. China Youth Daily reported.
After Chunhua’s video was released, the China National Medical Center for Infectious Diseases published an article saying that wearing “protective clothing (commonly known as ‘Great White’) … can greatly increase the risk of heatstroke. Instead, medical workers were advised to wear lighter and more breathable surgical gowns.
But temperatures have continued to rise since then, however, and on August 12 First The “high temperature red alert” was issued by the China National Meteorological Center. That meant four or more provinces recorded temperatures of more than 100 degrees during a 48-hour period and more than 10 provinces were expected to reach between 100 and 108 degrees.
He stayed in the country for 12 days until August 23.
For Ho, it showed that extreme heat should be taken just as seriously as other extreme weather.
“There are drastic measures taken to prevent people from being at risk from typhoons or rainstorms, but we haven’t dealt with the heat in the same way,” she said.
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