Image Source: Daily Sabah
Barely 24 hours after the two months city-wide restrictions were eased, some neighborhoods in Shanghai were placed under lockdown again, as China’s draconian zero-Covid approach continues to wreak havoc on the financial capital.
On Wednesday, Shanghai’s two-month curfew was lifted, allowing the majority of the city’s 25 million citizens to return home. Nonetheless, roughly 2 million people remained confined to their houses in government-designated “high-risk” locations.
Shanghai officials announced at a news conference on Thursday that seven new Covid cases had been discovered in the city’s Jing’an and Pudong districts, prompting the immediate closure of four neighborhoods and the designation of “medium-risk areas,” which means residents will be confined to their homes for 14 days.
According to officials, their 26 close contacts and 106 secondary contacts were quarantined by the government, and over 470,000 people were examined.
The return to lockdown is the latest warning that, despite the loosening of restrictions, the government’s zero-Covid policy, which includes mass testing, extended quarantine, and emergency lockdowns, will continue to dominate daily life.
While Shanghai’s businesses and shops have reopened, and subway and bus service has resumed, citizens must still get a negative Covid test within 72 hours to use public transportation or enter public venues.
Residents’ relief and joy after the lifting of the lockdown quickly turned to frustration as long queues formed at testing sites throughout the city on Wednesday and Thursday.
According to footage posted on social media by residents, some lasted hundreds of meters in the sweltering July heat, while others continued well into the night. Residents were warned that the wait may last up to four and a half hours at one testing site.
Despite authorities having established over 10,000 testing locations and trained hundreds of employees to swab throats, Shanghai officials admitted and apologized for the lengthy wait on Thursday, claiming a shortage of resources and facilities.
Officials said that some of the testing sites were yet to be put into operation, while others were only available for a brief time throughout the day and were understaffed.
Fears of a repeat lockdown continue to plague many locals. According to images circulating on social media, throngs were seen leaving the International Finance Center mall in the Lujiazui financial area on Thursday morning after it abruptly halted people from entering or exiting, which is a usual practice at locations where positive cases are discovered.
The mall later announced that it had reopened at 12.30 p.m. after a thorough disinfection, but it did not confirm whether there had been a positive Covid case at the location.
The poorly managed lockdown in Shanghai resulted in significant food shortages and a lack of access to medical treatment, causing citizens to express their anger and despair. Even while the rest of the world learns to live with the virus and moves on from the pandemic, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has promised to keep the zero-Covid policy in place.
The People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, claimed on its front page on Thursday that “under the leadership of Xi, the war to defend Shanghai has won great phased accomplishments.”
“Shanghai is aggressively investigating innovative mechanisms for normalized prevention and control in the mega-city, as well as quickening the return of economic and social development to the normal track,” the statement stated.