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Shanghai Under Strict Lockdown in ‘Zero-COVID’ China

Shanghai's severe lockdown is making headlines around the world.

By:  |  April 20, 2022  |    602 Words
GettyImages-1392277408 China lockdown

(Photo by Xu Chongde/VCG via Getty Images)

As the United States moves on from the COVID-19 pandemic, one of China’s biggest cities is under a strict lockdown. Shanghai has imposed severe coronavirus rules as China tries to keep a “Zero-COVID” policy. The idea is to prevent even a single case of the virus from existing in the country. As other nations learn to live with the virus, is “Zero-COVID” worth the high price?

Despite the strict measures, infections have risen, with China experiencing its highest number of cases since the beginning of the outbreak in 2019.

Lockdown in Shanghai


A patient works while receiving treatment in the a quarantine zone, Shanghai. (Photo by Yin Liqin/China News Service via Getty Images)

Around 25 million Shanghai residents are stuck at home. The Chinese government reported 29,411 new cases on Thursday, but only about 3,000 of those showed symptoms. That means, in most cases where people have caught the COVID virus, they have not shown any signs, such as trouble breathing. No official deaths have been reported. Even though the virus does not seem to be affecting people’s health severely, there is no clear date to end the lockdown.

All infected people in the city must go to an isolation center or hospital, whether they show symptoms or not. Some facilities have thousands of people sharing the same room. Some said they have no privacy. They have a bucket, soap, and a cloth for bathing, with no access to a shower. They share a toilet with many others and sleep on a thin mattress in a large room. Some reports say the lights are kept on all night, making it hard to sleep. Others have likened their experience to summer camp, with announcements, chores, calls to work, and rest time. Children with COVID have also been separated from their parents and families.

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According to the rules, only people with COVID are allowed in certain medical facilities. This means people with other health problems are not getting the attention they need.

The police have been wearing protective suits to enforce the rules. It is rare for people in China to speak openly against the government since this can get them in trouble. Despite the risks, residents are starting to complain. One major issue has forced Shanghai officials to loosen the rules: complaints about food.

Residents couldn’t leave their homes for any reason, even to get groceries at the store. This left people begging for food and supplies. Some were even recorded shouting from their apartment balconies, asking for food. To deal with the problem, officials allowed roughly 6.6 million people to leave their homes, since no new cases were reported in their areas. However, most businesses are still closed. This means there is limited access to food, medicine, and other items.

Spreading Restrictions


A worker disinfects a neighborhood in Shanghai. (Photo credit should read YUYU CHEN/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Shanghai isn’t the only city facing restrictions. In 87 of China’s 100 largest cities, millions of people are in a partial or complete lockdown.

The rules have also affected key products. Truck drivers cannot transport items in and out of Shanghai. The city is a major center for shipping – but the ports cannot transport as many items as usual. Other cities have similar problems, and many factories have been shut down. This could cause more problems with the global supply chain.

Despite the complaints and worries, Chinese President Xi Jinping is unwavering. He is still confident in the “Zero-COVID” strategy.

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