Videos of clashes between police and residents who were forced to leave their homes in Shanghai, China, have gone viral after the third week of mandatory confinement for millions of people living in the city, as the local government battles an outbreak of the new coronavirus.
Anyone who tests positive is immediately quarantined. But with more than 20,000 new cases a day, authorities are struggling to find enough space for confinement.
In recent weeks, the city has converted exhibition halls and schools into quarantine centers and set up makeshift hospitals. Some entire housing developments have also been turned into confinement sites.
But with a low rate of serious cases of covid-19, many are beginning to wonder if such a radical lockdown is even necessary, according to the BBC’s China correspondents.
In recent weeks, many residents have taken to social media to complain about the restrictions and lack of food.
People have to beg for food and water and wait for the government to leave vegetables, meat and eggs at their doors, and analysts say many are running out of supplies.
The extension of the lockdown has put a strain on delivery services, grocery store websites, and even the distribution of government supplies.
According to BBC News Shanghai correspondent Robin Brant, after three weeks of confinement, people are angry.
The government-led operation that evacuated many of their homes to turn apartments into quarantine centers was the final straw for some Chinese, he reports.
“A few kilometers away, there was an organized protest, a bold stance as the lockdown settles in a country where you can go to prison for provoking fights. They are angry that a local school is being turned into another quarantine facility. . The police kicked them off the streets,” reports Brant.
“It was a small-scale episode, but it’s a sign of anger and frustration as this lockdown continues.”
Meanwhile, according to state media, the Chinese government has sent teams to the city to help more than 660 companies in key sectors of the economy, such as semiconductors and car manufacturing, resume production.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said on Friday (15/4) that it would ensure the supply of medical products and the natural flow of supply chains.
The move follows reports that parts of China’s manufacturing sector may soon have to close, at least temporarily, as companies have been unable to source essential components from Shanghai.
He Xiaopeng, chairman of electric vehicle maker XPeng, said that if work does not restart in Shanghai in May, all car factories across the country may have to stop operating.
China is one of the last remaining nations still committed to eradicating Covid-19, in contrast to most of the world that is trying to live with the virus.
But pressure on that policy has increased in recent weeks with the spread of the omicron variant.