Selfless volunteer repairman fixes up fangcang

By HE QI in Shanghai| (China Daily)| Updated : 2022-04-20

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Zheng Yibiao repairs a drain at the makeshift hospital he has been staying in East China's Shanghai, April 19, 2022. [Photo/China Daily]

Zheng Yibiao's daily life is slightly different from most COVID-19 patients.

The 36-year-old patient of a makeshift hospital on Lianliang Road in Shanghai's Putuo district, has appointed himself a volunteer maintenance man and cleaner.

His life in the makeshift hospital is not the only thing that's slightly different about Zheng-how he got to the hospital in the first place veers off the traditional path.

When Pudong, which is east of the Huangpu River, was locked down on March 28, Zheng was in Puxi, which is west of the river, and so he couldn't return home to Pudong. Not only that, the communities that his friends in Puxi lived in had also been locked down, so Zheng had to set up camp in his car.

After taking a nucleic acid test in hospital, he was informed the following day that it had come back with an abnormal result and was asked to isolate. Again, the only place Zheng had was his car. And that is where the construction worker stayed until the Shanghai disease prevention and control department came and picked him up on April 2 to take him to the makeshift hospital.

"I had no symptoms besides a slight cough and phlegm in the throat," he said.

While he enjoyed chatting with other patients, the Shandong native was eager to do anything to offset his boredom. He learned that there was a malfunction in a hospital restroom and jumped at the opportunity to fix it. After a job well done, Zheng has become the makeshift hospital's unofficial maintenance man, busy each day dredging sewage pipes, unblocking toilets and fixing doors.

According to Zheng, the seven-story hospital has been temporarily converted from an unused nursing home.


Zheng Yibiao examines pipe system at the makeshift hospital he has been staying in East China's Shanghai. [Photo/China Daily]

His good work has been noticed, and even though he is not a Party member, he's been added to the hospital's Communist Party of China members' WeChat group, which is aimed at solving problems at the facility.

One of the major problems was the lack of a wireless network.

"Some parents were complaining about spending a lot on mobile data for their children to take online classes," he explained.

"Many patients also rely on their mobile phones to stay connected with the outside world."

Having confirmed that the Wi-Fi was broken, Zheng decided to fix it, even though it was not in his usual area of expertise.

"I have been in the construction business since graduating from middle school and know many people who work in related areas," he said.

With the help of another patient who is a project manager at a local real estate business, Zheng soon formed a professional maintenance group that included workers from China Mobile.

The team completed the network repair work in just three days.


Zheng Yibiao repairs a water dispenser at the makeshift hospital he has been staying in East China's Shanghai. [Photo/China Daily]

"We gave priority to the beds with children who have to attend online classes. Other patients are able to use the network in the corridors and in most areas on each floor," Zheng explained. "The elderly can also now keep in contact with their family through video calls."

The shortage of tools has been a major impediment to his work, and so Zheng has had to get creative.

"When I repaired the sewers, circuits and water dispenser at first, I relied only on a two-yuan (30 cents) electric pen and self-made tools," he said.

On April 11, Zhang was finally eligible to be discharged, but decided to stay.

"My parents didn't know I was in the hospital. I didn't want them to worry about me. More importantly, the hospital is really short of maintenance personnel. I'm afraid there will be more problems that can't be solved if I go home," he said.

Shao Jun, who is in charge of the temporary Party branch of the Lianliang makeshift hospital, was moved by Zheng's selfless behavior.

"For the people in the hospital, Zheng's deeds will motivate others to create a better and more convenient living environment for everyone," Shao said.

"His stay after recovery will also eliminate people's fear of the virus."