Shanghai Residents See No End In Sight 6 Weeks Into COVID-19 Lockdown

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It’s six weeks in and Shanghai’s lockdown has only become harsher with officials being pressured to eliminate every COVID-19 infection within communities as per the regime’s “dynamic zero” standards, leaving millions with little hope in sight.

In some parts of the city, if an apartment building has a positive case all of its residents would be forcefully shipped off to quarantine facilities. Meanwhile, infected people have had to hand over their house keys so health workers can disinfect their homes.

Some Shanghai residents have reported that their neighborhoods have announced a “quiet period,” where no one is allowed to leave home and deliveries are halted, though there has been no official announcement.

Such strict policies have been additional blows to those of the city’s 25 million residents who have been relying on deliveries to obtain food and other daily necessities while they are confined inside their homes.

The tightened curbs came after Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping addressed the Shanghai outbreak for the first time. Speaking at the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee meeting on May 5, Xi vowed to win what he called a “battle defending greater Shanghai” while issuing warnings against anyone who questioned the zero-COVID policy, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Following the meeting in Beijing, Shanghai’s party chief Li Qiang on May 6 ordered officials to “issue military orders at all levels, and take more resolute and powerful actions to overcome the great war and great tests,” according to an official statement.

‘One Person Tests Positive, Whole Building Isolates’

According to neighborhood community notices circulating online, residents would be sent to centralized quarantine facilities if someone in the building is tested positive. Over the weekend, many shared they were forcefully taken away for quarantine on Twitter-like Weibo. On May 10, the hashtag “one person tested positive whole building quarantine” garnered 1 million views.

When asked about the claim at a briefing on the same day, city officials explained the definition of a close contact within a sealed-off building includes residents who live above or below the floor where a person tested positive. Previously, people who shared the apartment or live on the same level as positive cases were considered close contacts. The widened criterion means that more people in the same building are now at risk of being sent to the isolation center, even though officials called on avoiding the “one-size-fits-all” approach.

In a widely shared video, police in hazmat suits argue with residents who were told they needed to be quarantined after a neighbor tested positive.

“This is so that we can thoroughly remove any positive cases,” one of the officers is heard saying. “It’s not that you can do whatever you want unless you’re in America. This is China,” another police officer said. “Stop asking me why. There is no why. We have to adhere to national guidelines and epidemic control policies.”

In another viral video from Douyin, a Chinese version of Tiktok, hazmat suit-clad neighborhood staff patrolling the empty street were heard saying, “residents, please don’t go out. If one person becomes positive, all in the building will be taken away.”

The Epoch Times couldn’t verify the authenticity of these videos.

Epoch Times Photo
Residents line up for nucleic acid tests during a lockdown in Shanghai on April 16, 2022. (Aly Song/Reuters)

‘Quiet Period’

Several residential communities have ordered people not to leave home or receive deliveries as part of a “quiet period.”

One residential community in Shanghai’s Pudong district ordered people not to step out of their homes or receive essential deliveries, like food and medicines, according to a resident who shared the notice with The Epoch Times.

People were asked to cancel food orders if the packages were scheduled to be delivered before May 10, read a statement issued by the Laoshan Sancun neighborhood community. The Epoch Times couldn’t reach the community after repeated calls.

Another Pudong resident surnamed Hu told The Epoch Times on May 9 that he also received the message from neighborhood committees. People in Hu’s residential compound were supposed to be released on May 11 after recording no new infections for two weeks. But the “quiet period” means they would be confined in his home for another three to four days, according to Hu.

At the weekend, residents in at least four of Shanghai’s 16 districts received similar notices, with many previously allowed to walk within their residential compounds, according to Reuters.

Epoch Times Photo
The closed entrance of a residential area is pictured during lockdown in Shanghai on May 5, 2022. (Aly Song/Reuters)

‘No Hope’

Shanghai city official Jin Chen confirmed at a press conference on May 10 that health workers need to disinfect the homes of COVID-positive people. The official reminded residents to inform health workers about items that needed special protection.

Concerns have been rising after recordings emerged on social media show neighborhood staff in Shanghai demanding residents hand over keys to their homes to let health workers carry out disinfection.

A resident surnamed Chen told The Epoch Times that people in Beicai town were asked to hand over their keys as they were sent to quarantine.

Health workers sprayed disinfectant water on the floor, furniture, and beds, according to Chen, adding they threw all the frozen food on the floor as they disinfected the refrigerator.

“People are furious when they come home after two weeks’ quarantine: food is moldy and smelly…and flies are everywhere,” Chen added.

The extreme measures fulled public angst and raised questions about their legality.

Professor Tong Zhiwei, who teaches law at the East China University of Political Science and Law, wrote in an essay widely circulated on Weibo on May 7 that such acts were illegal and should stop.

“No organizations in Shanghai have the right to forcefully require residents to hand over the keys and enter their homes for ‘disinfection,’” Tong wrote. “Any practice of using coercive means to force residents to be sent to shelters for isolation is illegal.”

Liu Dali, a lawyer from one of China’s largest law firms, wrote a similar letter to authorities.

Copies of both letters have been censored from the Chinese internet. Posts from Tong’s social media account on the Weibo site were blocked as of May 8.

Epoch Times Photo
A resident looks out through a gap in the barrier at a residential area during lockdown in Shanghai on May 5, 2022. (Aly Song/Reuters)

The heavy-handed control has left some seeing no hope of being free anytime soon, as the authorities aimed to snuff out the transmissions of the fast-moving Omicron variant. On May 9, Shanghai recorded 3,014 cases, down from 3,947 a day earlier, though residents repeatedly said the official figures were under-reported, given the regime’s practice of covering up information that it deems harmful to its image.

On May 10, the last two subway lines suspended operation, according to state-backed news outlet The Paper.

A Pudong resident surnamed Wang said there are always one or two positive cases after mandatory testing of all inhabitants of the 33 apartment buildings in his community.

“All residents are complaining. It seems there is no hope of easing restrictions. We could be sealed in until the last day of this year,” Wang told The Epoch Times on May 9. “People are desperate.”

“It was like a prison,” said Coco Wang, a Shanghai resident living under the new restrictions. “We are not afraid of the virus. We are afraid of this policy.”

Luo Ya, Yi Ru, Lin Cenxin, and Reuters contributed to the report.

Dorothy Li


Dorothy Li is a reporter for The Epoch Times based in Europe.

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