Pheonix New Media reported the plight of a Shanghai cabin volunteer – Zhou Dong, on June 28. After finishing his volunteer work since the lockdown has lifted, he is now homeless. Moreover, he cannot find another job due to his positive nucleic acid records.
Volunteer work at Shanghai Fangcang
The National Exhibition and Convention Center was converted into a “fangcang” or makeshift hospital in March to assist in the fight against the Covid-19 outbreak.
It is considered China’s notorious fangcang camp and has 7,300 beds.
Zhou Dong used to work in Guangdong. However, after seeing recruitment information on Wechat asking for people to volunteer for work at Shanghai fangcang hospital, he decided to apply and arrived there on April 7.
He had nothing to do from April 8 to 11 because the makeshift hospital had not been entirely built. The volunteers were organized to live with workers from the construction unit because the shelter was not yet completed. There were thousands of volunteers like him. Each of the third to the fifth floor accommodated hundreds of people. The living conditions were poor, crowded with people, no electricity or water, and no manager.
On April 11, he followed other volunteers to join a simple orientation session at the square outside the convention center. The following day, Zhou Dong officially worked as a volunteer cleaner; his duties included sweeping, mopping, and clearing garbage inside the cabin.
Besides that, he had to clean up the trash from thousands of patients’ lunch boxes daily, clean the restroom and assist medical workers in transferring supplies.
Although his wage was higher than his previous work with a daily income of 800 yuan (120 dollars), the living expenses in the square cabin are higher than outside. For example, the price of a cigarette nearly doubles to 400 yuan (60 dollars), while the cost of noodles triples to 12 yuan or $1.80.
On April 10, a construction worker on the 5th floor where Zhou lived was called away in the middle of the night when his test result showed positive for Covid. Ten days later, Zhou Dong suffered symptoms of weak limbs and a sore throat. His nucleic acid test result also showed positive, and he was placed in a special control area near Gate 10 with other Covid positive volunteers.
He says the special control area is temporary with a fence and guardrail, with too many people crowded there at once.
On the two consecutive days, he received calls from the local CDC. They inquired about his symptoms, but he received no treatment as no beds were available.
He lacked a “Certificate of Diagnosis” and “Certificate of Discharge.” Although his result had turned negative, his health code was still red. Other volunteers also experienced the same situation.
He then contacted the national CDC to turn the health code into the green one.
Rejected for Job Search and Evicted for Staying
On June 1, Shanghai lifted the lockdown, and Zhou finished work, leaving the cabin. He tried to find a job; however, all employers stated that they did not recruit anyone positive from the makeshift hospital. He couldn’t stay at the hotel either because no hotel agreed to accommodate a person with two-month nucleic acid records.
With nothing to do and nowhere to go, he wandered from Qingpu to Songjiang, then Pudong. He lived in abandoned buildings or public restrooms for more than 20 days, and security guards and police often evicted him.
He couldn’t go to crowded places for three months. He only used a single tube for nucleic acid testing. He feared that if it showed positive, he would continue to be isolated.
Appeal for work-related injury protection
Zhou believes that it behooves the government to protect volunteers’ rights. According to the Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau’s statement on March 28, it is responsible for fully supporting the anti-epidemic measures and implementing work-related injury protection treatment. For medical and related staff infected with Covid-19 as a result of performing their work duties, a will green channel is to be opened to identify work-related injuries quickly and offer various benefits.
Zhou says that volunteers diagnosed with Covid-19 should be identified as having work-related injuries.
Zhou had already filled in the necessary materials for the work injury declaration at the end of May. The company recruiting him – Yuanmao Development Company Limited, also gave a notification that they would submit the declaration to Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau.
However, when he called the bureau, they said the only way to ask the company to bear the burden was through the court. The labor law had no relevant regulations.
He subsequently reported the situation to the “12345 Citizen Service Hotline”. He was told that Yuanmao had been instructed to answer the request and adequately resolve the problem.
Zhou says that if they can solve the problem, he will return to Guangdong because his belongings are still there, and he cannot find a job in Shanghai.