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Shanghai’s eight-day lockdown is stretching into weeks

A group of people dressed in heavy PPE gear stand near barricades.
Reuters
Shanghai’s spiraling cases are confounding authorities.
Published Last updated

There’s no clear end in sight to the lockdown in Shanghai.

China’s financial hub, home to nearly 26 million people, entered a two-part lockdown last week originally meant to last only eight days. First, its eastern side Pudong would shut down, followed by Puxi, west of the river Huangpu. But on Tuesday when the lockdown was due to lift, the city announced they would extend the confinement for the whole city indefinitely.

Despite its strict covid-19 controls, Shanghai saw more than 17,000 new cases on Tuesday, surpassing the highest daily tally in Wuhan set in the early days of the pandemic. Most are asymptomatic or mild but anyone who tests positive is sent to mass quarantine centers. This week, outrage sprang up on social media (link in Chinese) over covid-19 positive toddlers getting separated from their parents who did not also have the virus, although at least some centers seem to have since relaxed that policy.

Chaotic access to food and basic necessities and poor coordination between government agencies (link in Chinese) is fraying people’s nerves. In the days leading up to the citywide lockdown, many of the city’s residents had experienced some shorter form of quarantine on a building or compound basis. A single confirmed case would lead to the entire block getting quarantined for 48 hours but these lockdowns could be extended multiple times leaving residents exasperated.

It’s not only Shanghai either. Various large hubs including Jilin City, Changchun, Xuzhou, Tangshan have barred their populations totaling in the tens of millions from setting foot outside their homes too, showing that China doesn’t have a roadmap out of its zero-covid policy.

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