4 dead in heatwave, cooler days coming

Updated 2017-07-26 09:46:17 Shanghai Daily

At least four people have died as the killer heatwave bringing record temperatures continues to grip Shanghai.

This year's third red alert for high temperatures was issued yesterday as the mercury hit 40.5 degrees Celsius — the fourth highest since records began 145 years ago.

Scores of people, many of them elderly, have been admitted to hospital with heatstroke. Some in a serious condition.

The good news is that the sub-tropical high will weaken from today as a southeasterly wind brings cooler days, forecasters said.

The temperature climbed to 40.5 degrees by 1:30pm in the city center yesterday, the Xujiahui observatory station said.

Today's high is forecast at 38 degrees and temperatures are expected to drop daily over the next few days. Cold air from the north will arrive by the end of the month, ending the brutal weeks-long hot spell.

Yesterday was the third day above 40. Friday set a record as the hottest day since records began when the mercury hit 40.9 degrees. On Monday, the high was 40.2 — the fifth hottest day on record.

A man about 60 living alone in a small room died late on Monday night despite undergoing emergency treatment at the Chongming branch of Xinhua Hospital. He had recently bought an air conditioner, but it had not yet been installed.

"Some elderly are too frugal to use air conditioners. And for those in poor health and with chronic disease, they are under higher risks," said Wan Jian, a doctor at the Pudong New Area People's Hospital.

Three others died over the past few days. A 54-year-old man fainted while walking in the sun and died after being admitted to Pudong New Area People's Hospital.

On Monday, another red alert day, an elderly farmer fainted on his doorstep in the countryside of Pudong. Doctors found blisters on his body. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

And a 76-year-old man was found lying motionless about 6pm last Sunday in a roadside cornfield in rural Nanhui area of Pudong. He died before an ambulance arrived.

A witness surnamed Kang said the man continued working his fields in a scorching 39 degrees.

"I had tried to persuade him to stop working, but he didn't take it seriously," she said. "Later, I saw him collapsing on the ground, all black over the body and foaming at the mouth."

Some patients admitted to the Songjiang District Central Hospital had temperatures of more than 40 degrees — a life-threatening level. One, with a temperature of 42.2 lapsed into a coma after massive organ failure.

Hospital staff say many elderly sent to hospitals by passersby are too ill to tell their name, age or address and suggest relatives or friends ensure older people carry a card with personal and contact information.

When people suffer severe heatstroke, they will lose consciousness and suffer multiple organ failure, heart failure, respiratory failure, pulmonary edema, brain edema. The death rate is over 60 percent.

So, residents are warned to pay attention to early symptoms like dizziness and nausea, red skin, massive sweating and a faster heartbeat. Once these symptoms occur, patients should be carried to a cooler place and given drinks with salt added.

Food also easily spoils in the heat. Shanghai's food watchdog yesterday ordered enhanced supervision and monitoring of restaurants, central kitchens, food suppliers, and canteens to prevent food poisoning.

District market watchdogs have been ordered to strengthen supervision and management, particularly on central kitchens producing and delivering semi-finished and instant foods.

Central kitchens should strictly control the temperature of food preparation, and stocks and delivery conditions, and the packaging and labels should contain the production date and time, production method and expiry date.

Food delivery companies, company canteens and venues hosting banquets, which have higher risk to food safety, should be kept under enhanced monitoring.

Supplying banned foods such as scapharca subcrenata, a kind of clam, and wine-preserved shrimp and crab can bring severe punishment, the food watchdog warned.

When the bacterial poisoning risk reaches middle or high, district market watchdogs warn businesses with high food safety risks in their jurisdiction. And they should inform disease control and prevention agencies immediately over suspected food poisoning cases.

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