COVID in Shanghai – What’s Happening
Economic impact of the new lockdownsA center of economic activity, Shanghai is bearing the brunt of the implemented lockdown. Liu He, Vice-Premier of China’s State Council, said that the country must work on stabilizing supply chains amid the outbreaks. “We should solve outstanding problems one by one in key regions,” the official said, according to the Xinhua News Agency. He also added that the government will establish a “white list” of companies that need help to recover. Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, also expressed worries about the lockdown’s negative economic effects. In an interview with ABC News, Huang said: “When other countries are now learning to coexist with the virus and their economy and the manufacturing capacity is recovering, China’s export sector will be affected.”
Anger and hunger amidst the lockdown
Meanwhile, an April 7th BBC article tells us that people have been “banned from leaving” even for grocery shopping, with the government placing metal locks on apartment exits. This has led to a real threat of starvation among the city’s almost 25 million residents.
Social media shares have also shown the reality of other extreme, inhumane protocols, such as the removal of children from their parents if they test positive. These children are then sent to quarantine centers with shocking conditions – other videos show cardboard boxes being used as beds in sardine-style packed vicinity, portaloo festival-style toilets with no sanitation, 24 hour lights and no hot showers.
Cops in hazmat suits are dragging people away from their homes
It’s no surprise that these strict lockdown measures have also led to violent encounters between the police and the residents.
Viral footage shows government workers in full hazmat suits ordering and forcing distraught civilians to leave their homes, with one video showing an elderly man crying as he is carried away by 4 of these men, with each carrying one of his limbs as they take him away.
Meanwhile, other social shares across Instagram that have yet to be flagged by the Chinese censorship system, include videos of the pets of those that have tested positive for COVID being beaten to death in the street while their owner is being dragged away and bundled into an ambulance destined for the COVID-19 centers, where often, even asymptomatic people are being taken.
“It’s not that I don’t want to cooperate with the country,” a woman lamented. “But how would you feel if you live in a building where the blocks are only 10 meters (30 feet) apart, everyone has tested negative, and these people are allowed in?”.
NYPost also reported that some “schools, newly constructed apartment blocks and exhibition halls” are now being used as quarantine centers.
An increasing frustration over the situation
Human Rights Watch senior researcher Yaqiu Wang said:
“You would think that after two years of the pandemic, the Chinese government would have been more prepared for a lockdown. The most surprising thing is how rigid the lockdown in Shanghai is, even though many people know that Omicron is not that serious”.
How their people are now being treated and starved and left in the dark about when the end of this is to come, is so much more damaging than COVID-19 could have ever been. There have been reports (and also videos across social media) of people committing suicide by jumping out of their apartment windows due to the extreme length of time they are being forced to stay inside with no means to buy food, and no news of when they will be free again.
US State Department orders “all non-emergency government staff” to leave Shanghai
In an official travel advisory dated April 11th, the US Department of State “ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees.” The list likewise included “all family members from the Consulate General Shanghai consular district.”
The department warned:
“Reconsider travel to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws and COVID-19-related restrictions”.
Chinese officials, however, were quick to oppose the announcement.
Zhao Lijian, deputy director of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Department, expressed “strong dissatisfaction” about it. He even described the move as “the politicization and weaponization of evacuations by the US.“
What’s Happening Now
Residents are using social media to try to get this information shared with the rest of the world. Strict censorship systems in Shanghai have meant that the majority of social media removes anything that mentions the quarantines, lockdown or COVID in general, so online users are getting creative with their actions. In order to dodge the algorithm, there have been certain hashtags that allow users to connect with this type of news.
Online users are also selecting songs that are trending as background sounds to their videos so that their video is more likely to appear in a trend, in order to share the truth of what is happening with more people, without the videos being taken down immediately.
What You Can Do
Stay informed about global COVID-19 news by reading our blog with the most important Coronavirus news stories being added every week. Meanwhile, in order to prevent another lockdown here in New York City, please continue to be tested to avoid spreading the virus further.