Soaring Covid contagions: Shanghai anticipates lockdown extension
by John Ai

Today almost 6,000 cases in the country's most populous city. Xi Jinping's strict "zero Covid" policy is likely to have huge costs for the government. Videos and online comments show people's protests against the restrictions, which have resulted in a lack of food and basic necessities.


Rome (AsiaNews) - Shanghai authorities have extended the lockdown for Covid-19 to previously excluded city areas two days ahead of time. The health situation in the Chinese megalopolis, with 26 million inhabitants the most populous in China, is worsening: today almost 6,000 cases of contagion have been recorded.

The city went into partial isolation on March 28. It was to be limited to the part east of the Huangpu River until April 1. From then on, restrictions were to affect its western section until April 5. People in quarantined areas are to remain, while the public transportation system is suspended. Blanket diagnostic tests are also planned for the entire population.

The local government has accelerated the construction of temporary quarantine facilities and equipped stadiums and other entertainment complexes as temporary hospitals to meet the crisis. Online videos show hundreds of people being held in isolation in an exhibition hall. Official media say thousands of patients are currently hospitalized in makeshift medical facilities.

 Shanghai has responded to the outbreak of the new pandemic wave, due to the spread of the Omicron variant,with only partial closures, in an attempt to avoid a negative impact on the economy. The almost total lockdown decided in these days by the city authorities is in line with Xi Jinping's "zero-COVID" policy, which is likely to have huge costs for the Chinese government.

Shortly before the lockdown, Shanghai residents flooded supermarkets and grocery stores to buy basic necessities. Online comments accused the leadership of ignoring the needs of the people, in some cases unable to buy supplies.

Meanwhile, Shanghai's major hospitals have shut down outpatient services and many patients are unable to get medicine. Caixin reports that Zhou Shengni, a nurse at the Eastern City Hospital, suffered from acute asthma and died after being turned away from several outpatient clinics.

On March 26, local authorities had said the city would not adopt the lockdown; police even arrested two people for spreading rumors of an impending shutdown.

The tight restrictions have tested the patience of residents. Videos are circulating online of people protesting and shouting at police to lift the lockdown on their areas.

The city government has allowed companies to continue operating in "bubbles," with workers forced to remain in the factories. Tesla's local one has suspended operations since March 28. Reuters, on the other hand, reported that General Motors employees have been sleeping on the factory floor to ensure deliveries.

The Wall Street Journal reports although factories can operate, supply chain and logistics are hampered by the lockdown, and many plants are unable to transport their products. The Port of Shanghai said it is continuing operations despite the lockdown. However, Seatrade Maritime News revealed that transportation services are severely affected and port warehouses remain closed.