Chinese residents have been reportedly trading $350 Nintendo consoles for instant noodles amid fears of food shortages during the world’s toughest lockdown.
Authorities have banned 13 million people in the city of Xi’an from going outside even for essential reasons, as the country is trying to control one of its worst COVID outbreaks.
Residents who have been confined since December 23, were seen reportedly begging for food on social media as China’s harsh “zero COVID” policy sees brutal punishments for those breaking quarantine.
COVID booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.
However, posts on the Chinese social media platform Weibo claim that locals trading cigarettes and expensive gadgets for groceries.
Shared footage showed some allegedly exchanging cigarettes for cabbage, dishwashing liquid for apples, and even a Nintendo Switch for instant noodles and steamed buns.
While government staff has been delivering supplies to those in lockdown, many have reported that they are struggling as they have not received them yet.
A resident surnamed Wang told Radio Free Asia: “People are swapping stuff with others in the same building because they no longer have enough food to eat.”
According to the outlet another man wanted to trade a smartphone and tablet for rice.
China’s zero-tolerance approach to COVID has reportedly seen authorities raiding dozens of homes in the middle of the night and forcing people onto buses to quarantine camp.
It comes as another 1.2 million people in the city of Yuzhou in central China were plunged into lockdown after three asymptomatic COVID cases were recorded.
The measures imposed are similar to the ones in Xi’ an with authorities being on the lookout for vehicles on the roads and rule-breakers facing ten days in detention and a 500 yuan fine ($78).
Despite the draconian measures, China is still reporting high numbers of COVID cases.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced here with permission.