Shanghai reported over 27,000 new coronavirus cases, a new daily high, one day after Chinese President Xi Jinping said that the country must continue with its strict Dynamic Covid Clearance policy and pandemic control measures.
Shanghai is facing China’s worst Covid outbreak since the coronavirus emerged in Wuhan in 2019. Over 25 million residents are under lockdown, although some restrictions were eased in several areas earlier this week.
A wider restriction net to curb the spread of the Omicron variant have disrupted logistics and supply chain systems, and are taking a massive economic toll on the country. This has led many to believe that China’s central bank will announce more stimulus measures.
A study on the 7th of April revealed that 87 of China’s hundred largest cities (by GDP) have imposed some form of quarantine curbs.
Residents of Shanghai have resorted to social media to vent their frustrations and anger over difficulties which include not getting enough food, and the Chinese policy that requires anyone who tested positive, symptomatic or not, have to be quarantined. Residents have complained about poor conditions in the quarantine centers.
The Chinese CDC (Centre for Disease Control) published a home guide to quarantine on Wednesday, offering hopes for a shift in policy on the quarantine curbs imposed in Shanghai. The guide, which recommends being quarantined in a well-ventilated room with plenty of sanitizer and masks, lifted hopes that the central quarantine rule will be eased.
However, when asked by a social media user in an online comments section about who might be eligible for home quarantine, the CDC referred to the old rules.
Shanghai government authorities also gave no hint of any change in approach.
Promising those enduring enforced lockdowns that persistence would pay off in the long run, President Xi said that China must stick to the dynamic Covid Clearance policy as the global pandemic situation remained extremely serious.
The President indicated that there would not be a change in approach to the pandemic control measures, while reiterating that the country must stick to its approach and not relax prevention measures.
Xi’s remarks follow several recent state media articles supporting China’s aggressive COVID strategy even as Shanghai residents labor under restrictions.
Poor conditions in Shanghai quarantine centers
Recently, an article enumerating the human toll of Shanghai’s hard anti-Covid measures went viral on social media platform WeChat. One comment received over half a million likes in under 7 hours, after which the article was removed for allegedly violating WeChat regulations.
One quarantine center in Shanghai had people on camp beds separated by less than an arm’s length distance. One of the occupants said that four toilets were being shared by over 200 people, with no facility for showers.
A city official said that cases continued to rise despite the lockdown mainly because of a backlog of test results and also because of continued transmission among family members. While authorities have not provided exact details of the number of people in quarantine, the city has recorded more than 280,000 cases in March alone.
In order to leave a quarantine center, residents must produce two consecutive negative RT-PCR test results.