Shanghai lockdowns: 25 million people struggle to get food and water
China’s zero COVID-19 approach has left many residents in Shanghai restricted to their homes without stocked food and medical care
Shanghai’s strict COVID-19 lockdowns have left 26 million residents with a lack of access to food and medical care, as infections spread beyond city limits.
Driving the news: About 6.6 million people were allowed to go outside recently, restricted to their neighborhoods, according to ABC News. Despite the lockdowns, the spread of the virus has not been contained. In fact, Shanghai has reported more than 26,000 new infections on Sunday as the number continues to rise.
Details: The lockdowns began on March 28, mandating the closure of businesses and stay-at-home orders. Those who tested positive were taken to temporary quarantine facilities as a part of China’s “Covid zero” policy, although the facilities have been deemed “crowded and unsanitary” by many people, per Reuters.
Shanghai has performed 25.67 million polymerase chain reaction tests. With results still pending, most residents aren’t allowed to go to grocery stores. According to New Food Magazine, all international flights to the city have been halted, with many roads and airports closed.
Why it matters: This outbreak is the largest China has seen in the last two years, which can create a fragile economy while straining supply chains globally. The country’s medical system also runs a risk of collapsing, “leading to enormous loss of life,” said the official Xinhua news agency, per Reuters.
What’s happening: Shanghai residents were seen screaming from their balconies to protest the lockdowns while drones warned people to comply with the restrictions and not open windows.
As seen on Weibo: Shanghai residents go to their balconies to sing & protest lack of supplies. A drone appears: “Please comply w covid restrictions. Control your soul’s desire for freedom. Do not open the window or sing.” https://t.co/0ZTc8fznaV pic.twitter.com/pAnEGOlBIh— Alice Su (@aliceysu) April 6, 2022
Yes, and: The problem is much greater as Chinese officials admitted that the country's own vaccines offer lower protection against the coronavirus.
“We will solve the issue that current vaccines don’t have very high protection rates,” Gao Fu, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a presentation on Chinese COVID-19 vaccines, according to The Associated Press.
What experts said: “The epidemic is in a period of rapid growth,” said Lei Zhenglong, of the National Health Commission. “Community transmission has not been effectively contained.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. government ordered all “non-emergency U.S. government employees” in Shanghai amid the tight restrictions.
The bigger picture: The Communist Party’s zero-tolerance approach has become a test of the current government's legitimacy. Per The New York Times, leader Xi Jinping has used tackling the virus as a proof of competency as he is expected to claim an “unprecedented” third term.