Shanghai has once again tightened its draconian lockdowns in a fresh push to achieve “COVID zero” this month — just as China’s biggest city was starting to emerge from a month of strict anti-virus restrictions.
Fresh stay-at-home orders were put in place in some of the city’s 16 districts over the weekend, despite new COVID cases continuing to fall.
Notices issued in several districts ordered residents to stay home and banned them from receiving nonessential deliveries as part of a “quiet period” that is in place until at least Wednesday. The tightened measures could be extended depending on the results of mass COVID testing in the districts, the notices said.
Authorities haven’t offered an explanation for the sudden heightened measures. Isolation rules on the city’s 25 million residents had only just started to lift as cases began to decline.
Social media posts and accounts from residents show that the government is doubling down on its efforts to eliminate infections outside designated quarantined areas, which were previously set up in schools and entertainment venues.
Frustrated residents said they were being made to move to such facilities, despite testing negative, because cases had recently been detected in their apartment buildings.
Footage shared thousands of times on social media showed hazmat-suited police arguing with residents who’d been told they had to move to quarantine after a neighbor tested positive.
“This is so that we can thoroughly remove any positive cases,” one officer could be heard saying. “Stop asking me why, there is no why. We have to adhere to national guidelines and the epidemic control policy.”
Images also emerged over the weekend of locals and hazmat-suited officials fighting on the street in Shanghai’s Minhang district. District officials later said “troublemakers” had clashed with health management staff.
Thousands of residents across the city have already been forced into the centralized quarantine centers since the government enforced the measure as part of its strict lockdown early last month.
Shanghai has only achieved citywide “COVID zero” outside these quarantine areas twice amid the recent outbreak — April 30 and May 1.
City officials have said districts with no cases outside quarantine for three consecutive days were considered to have achieved the goal.
Shanghai has been reporting thousands of cases a day, the vast majority of which are in sealed-off areas, including central quarantine facilities or in apartment buildings where residents are barred from leaving their front doors.
On Saturday, authorities in the Putuo and Changning districts said residents in housing compounds classified as lowest-risk “prevention” areas could no longer leave their compounds.
Residents in the Pudong New Area district, which houses Shanghai’s financial center, received similar notices.
“This is to reach ‘zero cases at community level’ as soon as possible and allow the lockdown to be lifted,” one notice posted in the Xuhui district said.
With Post wires