The Nation and the World

China’s zero-Covid policy brings stricter lockdown to Shanghai

Shanghai, one of the most economically developed cities in China, has been under lockdown since the end of March. The new Covid outbreak in Shanghai has led to a lockdown policy that is much stricter than even the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Now, the streets of Shanghai are almost empty, nonessential businesses are shut down, public transportation is halted, and since March 12, all schools in Shanghai have also closed. 

On April 12, the National Health Commission issued a policy that all residents of all districts in Shanghai had to participate in a daily Covid test, and any close contacts or positive cases were sent to the centralized “fangcang” hospitals, a makeshift mobile field hospital built in rural areas of Shanghai used for quarantine. 

The living situation and human rights of people both in and out of quarantine have worried many observers. In April 3, video footage of numerous crying babies in a Shanghai hospital raised concern over policies regarding minors who were forcibly separated from their families because of close contacts with Covid. The Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center later confirmed that this footage was authentic and that parents with Covid were being separated from their children. But because of the lack of faculty and caregivers to take care of these young children, parents in Shanghai have grown concerned about the separation policy. In a report from the New York Times, a mother whose 2-year-old daughter was locked inside the Jinshan clinical center said that “In the whole room, there was only one nurse, but I saw around 10 minors.”

For people locked down in their home, getting the food and resources needed is also becoming an issue. Private food delivery services were being suspended in most neighborhoods, and because grocery stores and markets were all shut down, the only way for Shanghai citizens to get food was through food distribution from the government. However, these food supplies are very unstable, and online many people have posted pictures of expired food being delivered through the government food distribution system. On social media, Shanghai citizens have even started calling vegetables and meat the new “LV and Gucci.”

Photo credit: Gaby Cao ‘24

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