Shanghai (AFP) – Scuffles with officials, workers storming factory gates and furious households being dragged into quarantine – Shanghai’s long fight against Covid-19 is turning into chaos and despair.
China insists on sticking to its zero Covid strategy, and that has left most of Shanghai’s 25 million people locked down for several weeks.
The city is the epicenter of China’s worst Covid outbreak to date, with more than half a million infections and more than 500 deaths, according to official figures.
However, despite the decrease in cases to a few thousand in recent days, the authorities continue to talk about new control measures.
These include the relocation of entire residential complexes under quarantine – including even people who test negative for the virus – and the refusal of some food deliveries in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
Residents who were initially told they would be home for just a few days are now entering their sixth or seventh week of lockdown and anger is boiling up across the city.
Footage emerged over the weekend of a street brawl between residents and officials dressed in white hazmat suits in Shanghai’s Minhang district.
District officials later said ‘troublemakers’ clashed with health management staff on Saturday night, prompting neighbors to rush out of their barricaded building as other residents threw objects into the street from their windows.
Videos circulating on social media and verified by AFP showed residents of the Zhuanqiao district of Minhang pushing the police as chants against “violent law enforcement” rang out.
Workers at Apple supplier Quanta’s Shanghai factory fought with guards and broke through barricades last week over fears Covid rules on campus were getting tougher, according to Bloomberg.
The hotspots add to a catalog of protests since the lockdown began in early April, in a country where unrest is normally quickly put down and rarely seen by the general public.
“Stop Asking Why”
Shanghai officials say the city is winning its fight against Covid, saying in recent weeks millions of people have been released from the strictest levels of lockdown.
But the view from the ground is different. Large neighborhoods given a brief semblance of freedom have been quietly returned to quarantine, Shanghai residents told AFP.
Many of those who have been placed in low-risk areas have been told they cannot leave their flats except to take Covid tests.
The complexes are ordering “periods of silence” or curfews of up to seven days during which people are even prohibited from ordering deliveries of personal items, according to official notices seen by AFP.
Meanwhile, residents of several buildings told AFP they had been warned of forced relocation to quarantine facilities if their neighbors tested positive.
“We will all be taken to a quarantine center and we will have to hand over our keys so they can come in and spray everything with disinfectant,” said a British citizen living in Shanghai’s Xuhui district, declining to be named by fear of reprisals.
Videos showing arguments with officials are now common on Chinese social media, with new confrontations being shared at a speed exceeding the race for censors to eliminate them.
A video that went viral over the weekend showed officials in protective gear arguing with a family in a mix of Mandarin and Shanghainese dialect.
‘You can’t do what you want unless you go to America. It’s China,’ official says in video after telling family they need to quarantine as they are contacts on the same floor of a Covid case.
“Stop asking why. There is no why. It’s in line with national regulations.”
© 2022 AFP