Lu, 99, was a long-time resident at Shanghai's Donghai Elderly Care hospital, her loved ones secure that she was getting round-the-clock care at the city's largest such center.

That was before COVID-19 struck China's biggest city last month, the country's worst outbreak since the virus emerged in Wuhan in late 2019, infecting multiple patients, doctors and care workers at the 1,800-bed facility.

Orderlies posted cries for help on social media, saying they were overwhelmed. Relatives said that there had been several deaths.