Apr 17, 2022 | Blog | 0 comments

Despite promises to the contrary, Shanghai’s government initiated one of the world’s strictest lockdowns on March 28th. Local schools had already been subjected to online classes several weeks earlier, and district-level quarantines were in effect across the city. Regardless of these measures, the Omicron virus continued to spread with daily cases surpassing 20,000 in record time.

The city’s 25 million residents are now under strict movement control. The lockdown was announced to be lifted on April 5th but the authorities quickly changed course and has extended most of the restrictions to stay in place until further notice.

Millions struggling to access food and necessities

The restrictions have impact on all aspects of daily life. Initially, all home deliveries were banned, trash should be put outside the door, and pets would not be allowed outside. The entire city was transformed as streets were sealed off with plastic tape, and volunteers dressed in white protection suits were on location to make sure everyone followed the rules.

Without access to supermarkets or deliveries, many people ran out of food after a week. The government started to distribute packages with vegetables, meat, and fruits. Some online platforms have remained in operation but with very limited delivery capacity. Communities are hence pooling resources to order basic necessities in bulk. However, the logistical challenges mean that prices have increased by as much as 500%. Consequently, many people continue to face serious food shortages and have no access to medication.

Dividing the city into three levels of control

All citizens are tested several times per week. On April 12th, the government published a classification of all residential buildings according to three categories of epidemic control: lockdown areas (positive cases reported in the last 7 days), controlled areas (no positive cases reported in the last 7 days), and precautionary areas (no positive cases reported in the last 14 days). Residents from precautionary areas are allowed to move around freely, but only in close vicinity of their home address.

Growing protests

While authorities remain committed to eradicating the disease rather than accepting to live with it, many residents are now protesting against the severe impact of the lockdown measures. Images of quarrels between epidemic control personnel and residents, children being separated from their parents, pets being killed, and unsanitary living conditions at isolation centers are provoking anger and despair among residents and are constantly shared on social media.


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