‘I paid almost R$300 for rotten meat’




Two pork chops that Will Liu says were rotten after he paid the equivalent of R$300 for them

Two pork chops that Will Liu says were rotten after he paid the equivalent of R$300 for them

Photo: Will Liu / BBC News Brazil

“I paid 400 yuan for two rotten pork chops,” says Will Liu, a Shanghai resident, in exasperated tones.

He says he bought the product on the internet when he was hungry during the second week of lockdown in the city because of the covid-19 pandemic.

As China adheres to its “covid zero” strategy, Shanghai has entered its fifth week of lockdown in an attempt to eradicate the disease across its territory, a financial and business hub that is home to 25 million people.



Food delivery services are under pressure due to the extension of the lockdown

Food delivery services are under pressure due to the extension of the lockdown

Photo: Getty Images / BBC News Brazil

Following government guidelines, people have to order food and water and wait for the government to deliver vegetables, meat and eggs. But the extension of the lockdown has put a strain on delivery services, grocery websites and even the distribution of government supplies.

The BBC has received numerous public and private messages from Shanghai about difficulties in obtaining food and medical supplies since the lockdown began.

Overloaded food delivery services

Will Liu, 28, is from Taiwan and has lived in Shanghai for nearly seven years.

He told the BBC’s Chinese service that the pandemic had not made a big difference in his life until the end of March this year.

“The authorities then proceeded to extend the original five days of lockdown to make it longer and longer. Everyone’s lives turned upside down.”

Will stored enough food for five days – the duration of the original lockdown that had been announced. He only has one microwave to cook at home, and when the confinement was extended, he ended up running out of food.

“In the second week of the lockdown, I found this food delivery site advertising ‘Pork chops for 400 Yuan’. I was starving, so I made an impulse purchase. But all I got was two pieces of rotten meat. I managed to get my money back, but I was very disappointed.”

Weibo and other social platforms have seen an increase in posts about food access issues in Shanghai since the lockdown began — at first partially — on April 5.



Shanghai's 25 million people depend on deliveries of vegetables and other products during the lockdown

Shanghai’s 25 million people depend on deliveries of vegetables and other products during the lockdown

Photo: Reuters / BBC News Brazil

“Our house has piles of vegetables and our fridge isn’t working properly, so our only option is to put these vegetables outside. They’re about to rot. But we have to. If you don’t, you’ll starve to death.” “, says one of the posts.

“Today is the 12th day of confinement for Puxi [distrito]. During these 12 days, I just [consegui] pick up a 10 kg bag of rice at Dingdong [serviço de entrega online]. Residents get very anxious when they can’t get food,” says another.

community food groups

“With four or five days of confinement, the residents of each community started buying food in groups and distributing it within the community. Everyone is helping each other.”

In messages sent privately to the BBC’s Chinese service, residents criticized the government’s response to the spread of the omicron variant in the region. Some also expressed their disapproval of Western press coverage.

Will learned a few tricks that he said increased his success rate when ordering food online.



Will Liu says he's using a massage device to quickly place orders on his phone screen

Will Liu says he’s using a massage device to quickly place orders on his phone screen

Photo: Will Liu / BBC News Brazil

Online shopping tip

“I use a massage gun to touch the phone screen. It allows me to access the app a few hundred times a minute, increasing the likelihood that my food order will be fulfilled.”

“My friends and I get help from friends outside of Shanghai to deal with food shortages. We only eat one meal a day now”

Shanghai recorded around 400,000 cases of covid-19 during the new outbreak. The daily death toll on Sunday, April 24, was 39. Many were elderly and unvaccinated people with underlying health conditions.

Some people questioned whether strict restrictions are necessary.



Long lines of people waiting for Covid tests have become a common scene since mandatory tests were applied in April.

Long lines of people waiting for Covid tests have become a common scene since mandatory tests were applied in April.

Photo: Reuters / BBC News Brazil

‘Cancer patients are suffering’

Zhang Le (name changed to protect his identity), a 50-year-old university professor in Shanghai, told the BBC he thinks patients with other medical needs have been ignored and the government is not following the science.

“I live five streets away from my parents, both are in their 80s. I bought some frozen foods at the beginning [do confinamento]. They have a caregiver. On April 1st, the caretaker got some vegetables from the market.”

“My parents say they’ve had four deliveries of food so far. My parents and their caretaker aren’t starving, that’s for sure.”

Long-term medical treatment

Zhong says that while access to food is not an issue, he is concerned about long-term medical issues.

“My dad is in a lot of pain because he can’t go to the hospital to get a pain reliever specific to his condition. He has cancer.”

“My mother already takes medication for hypertension. But she can’t go to the hospital to get the prescription either. That’s why she had to reduce the dose so it wouldn’t run out. (On April 20th), the subprefecture gave her the prescription, but it wasn’t the same medicine”.



More than 10,000 healthcare workers, along with 2,000 military doctors, were sent to Shanghai to carry out mass testing and vaccination programs.

More than 10,000 healthcare workers, along with 2,000 military doctors, were sent to Shanghai to carry out mass testing and vaccination programs.

Photo: Getty Images / BBC News Brazil

Concerns about mandatory testing

Zhong says he is concerned that his parents are lining up with others for mandatory tests.

“Between April 1st and April 21st, we were tested 15 times. I was very concerned that my parents would get infected from waiting in long lines. Videos circulating on the internet show employees swabbing several people without changing or disinfecting their gloves. cross-contamination of people and test kits?” he asks.

“I asked my parents not to line up for the test, but they didn’t want to be arrested for it. Last week, the testing team agreed to do home visits and they’ve already been to my parents’ house once.”

It’s not just his parents that are worrying Zhong.

“My cousin had an operation for liver cancer four months ago and discovered another tumor. But he is not having any follow-up appointments because all the medical professionals are working to prevent people from getting the infection. [covid]”.

“Access to food and quarantine don’t worry me, what I fear most is that patients won’t get treatment and medicine”.

He says he believes the government is needlessly risking lives.

“I think it’s stupid that every resource has been used to contain this flu-like virus. In other countries, governments follow scientists. In this country, scientists follow government. People with real medical problems are suffering.”



People who tested negative twice line up to leave a temporary hospital for people positive for covid in Shanghai

People who tested negative twice line up to leave a temporary hospital for people positive for covid in Shanghai

Photo: EPA / BBC News Brazil



Will says his biggest fear is not being infected, but being sent to the

Will says his biggest fear is not being infected, but being sent to “Fang Cang’s makeshift hospital”.

Photo: Getty Images / BBC News Brazil

Fang Cang makeshift hospitals

All local residents must be tested regularly following determination of public authorities.

If you test positive, you will be sent to Fang Cang, a makeshift hospital run by the government, with a mandatory quarantine of at least two weeks.

Many people used social media to vent their frustration and anger. Videos that appear to show people chanting for food supplies or asking for medicine are making the rounds on the internet.

Like many comments posted online, Will Liu says his biggest fear is not being infected with covid, but being sent to Fang Cang.



A Weibo post about what happened in Fang Cang - a makeshift government-run hospital for covid quarantine

A Weibo post about what happened in Fang Cang – a makeshift government-run hospital for covid quarantine

Photo: WeiBo / BBC News Brazil

‘Bring your own medicine’

On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform, posts and photos about Fang Cang in Shanghai have been on the rise since the lockdown began.

A recent post by a person claiming to be a medical professional working in Fang Cang was quite critical of the government.

“People have been asking what kind of treatment Fang Cang is offering. I was also curious at first. When I walked in, I didn’t feel bad; I didn’t feel like I needed any medicine. The next day, the nurse gave everyone a box of [um medicamento tradicional chinês que se diz ser eficaz na infecção por covid]. I took none.’

“On the third day, a little girl in front of me caught a cold while showering. She had a fever at night. I told her mother that the girl should take fever medicine, but the nurse said she didn’t have it. Thank God I I brought some with me, I gave some to the little girl”.

“On the fourth day, we were given two bags of traditional Chinese medicine. I realized that there was no information about ingredients and possible side effects. I just set them aside…

He has some simple advice for anyone going into quarantine.

“I suggest that if you have any symptoms when being sent to Fang Cang, bring your own fever medicine, just in case. We shouldn’t trust anyone but ourselves.”

About Abhishek Pratap

Food maven. Unapologetic travel fanatic. MCU's fan. Infuriatingly humble creator. Award-winning pop culture ninja.

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