Shanghai residents leverage Excel skills and management acumen to navigate lockdown | world news

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By Julie Zhu and Engen Tham

HONG KONG/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s worst COVID-19 outbreak has frayed nerves and stirred resentment for many Shanghai residents, but some have thrived in the face of adversity, stepping up their bright ideas and commitment to helping their communities through the crisis.

Unsurprisingly, many of these people have used the skills they have developed in their work to help others navigate the scary new world of enforced quarantine and lockdowns that no one dreamed of before COVID.

Li Di, a senior executive at a global bank, knew he had to help when he was admitted to the Nanhui quarantine site in April after testing positive for COVID and was met with chaos.

“There were only 120 to 150 staff to care for 10,000 patients. The staff literally had their hands full,” Li said.

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Li set up a team of more than a dozen volunteers to organize meals, distribute various supplies and help elderly patients who were struggling with various demands of the quarantine center.

He also implemented a more efficient way for those in quarantine to communicate with staff, which helped streamline the process of mandatory testing of the 400 people in his building, cutting the time it took by three hours. one, until approval. of overworked staff.

He even helped arrange halal food for Muslims.

“You need to bring modern management skills to make things more efficient and make life easier,” Li said.

Shanghai has become the epicenter of China’s biggest outbreak since the virus was first identified in the city of Wuhan in late 2019. Under China’s zero COVID policy, anyone who tests positive and their close contacts must be quarantined in designated sites.

Videos on social media showed hastily organized quarantine centers across the city, including one made up of shipping containers and one in a school without blankets or hot water.

The vast majority of Shanghai residents who dodged COVID did not escape the ordeal of confinement.

People ordered to stay at home in their apartments have struggled to get fresh food and other essentials as the restrictions closed shops and revealed a huge shortage of delivery people.

The last thing tech-savvy banker Vera expected was to take on bulk buying for her housing complex. But days after the lockdown, Vera, who works for a major American house in Shanghai and has asked that her surname not be used, took the job, known as “tuanzhang” in Chinese.

Trapped with 1,000 neighbors at home and everyone struggling to order food, Vera saw an opportunity to make things better for everyone.

She approached neighbors through the WeChat messaging service to collect orders, then loaded them into Excel spreadsheets for bulk purchases.

“I work as a tradesman because I have to monitor a number of screens and many new messages at the same time,” said Vera, who usually ends up checking orders and communicating with vendors and delivery services late into the day. the night.

Shanghai M&A banker Shirley said apart from good Excel skills, a strong social network, just like in the real world of business, can be a crucial asset in getting through the lockdown.

She was able to use the connections she made at work to connect with several big suppliers, including online grocery company Missfresh and household brand China Mengniu Dairy, and arrange bulk purchases.

“You really need good relationships,” she said.

Sun Chuan, a Shanghai-based partner at a global law firm, helped raise donations for the elderly as part of a campaign that a Peking University alumni association helped to throw.

According to official data, China’s most populous city has nearly 6 million people aged 60 or over, about 23 percent of the population. Many live alone and struggle to shop online.

Sun called friends via WeChat to join the campaign and his message quickly spread.

“At first, most of the donors were my friends, but later many others I didn’t know at all gave. I was deeply touched by their kindness,” Sun said.

Initially aiming to raise 660,000 yuan ($97,350), the campaign eventually raised nearly 870,000 yuan and provided food for a week to more than 4,000 elderly people in Shanghai.

($1 = 6.7796 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Julie Zhu in Hong Kong and Engen Tham in Shanghai; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee, Robert Birsel)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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