Uncovering the horror of Shanghai’s COVID-lockdown

Videos on social media have revealed the often inhuman and cruel methods — forcibly placing people in quarantine camps, killing pets — authorities in China’s financial capital have resorted to in order to achieve its ‘zero-COVID’ aim

Uncovering the horror of Shanghai’s COVID-lockdown

A medical worker wearing protective gear conducts COVID-19 tests on residents in Shanghai. China’s financial capital has increased its daily testing as part of its zero COVID strategy. AFP

Shanghai was once known for its glamour, with skyscrapers, bustling crowds, fancy restaurants and a thriving middle class.

However, China’s financial capital has been left brutally scarred — with over tens of millions of residents being trapped, attacked, forcefully quarantined and left homeless and hungry — all in the attempts of achieving the ‘zero-COVID’ dynamic.

Social media has been flooded with videos showing suspected COVID-positive patients being tied up and taken to quarantine centres. In other videos, people are seen being starved, as authorities refuse to allow them to step out to buy groceries.

So dire is the situation that even World Health Organization (WHO) chief said that China’s ‘zero COVID’ strategy is not sustainable. “When we talk about the zero-COVID strategy, we don’t think that it’s sustainable, considering the behaviour of the virus now and what we anticipate in the future. We have discussed about this issue with Chinese experts and we indicated that the approach will not be sustainable,” he was quoted as saying.

So, what’s actually going on in Shanghai? We take a closer look and try to uncover the truth of the brutality of the Chinese lockdown in the city.

Lockdown in Shanghai

Early in April, Shanghai put all its 26 million residents under lockdown, as authorities admitted the difficulty in containing the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

It also ordered daily city-wide testing, closure of all public transportation.

As cases kept increasing, major businesses were disrupted. From 7-Eleven convenience stores to Sony and Apple supplier plants, all companies faced heavy losses, owing to the lockdown.

The retail industry was also hit with many stores closing their shutters. Fast Retailing, the Japanese company behind the Uniqlo casualwear chain, closed 94 stores in Shanghai, and nearly all of the 150 7-Eleven locations in the city have been temporarily shuttered.

Kering, the owner of Gucci and Bottega Veneta, also said last month that it was also feeling the pain, with “sharp drops in traffic,” store closures and major logistics challenges posed by the lockdowns.

The strict lockdown has also left residents grumbling and in some cases, without food. A woman, speaking to abc.net, said that their quality of life has been declining, as living expenses continue to rise under lockdown.

“Every time they say lockdown will be eased after a few days, but there seems to be no end. All aspects of work are affected. I don’t know when it will be time for the lockdown to come to an end, the woman was quoted as saying.
Another said on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, “I’m not able to buy food. I have nothing left in my fridge. My neighbourhood has been sealed off. I don’t know what to do.”

Neglect, mistreatment, and abuse

Facing an uncertain future and being locked up for more than a month now, residents of Shanghai are now using social media to highlight the unprecedented neglect, mistreatment, and abuse they are facing.

In some videos, President Xi Jinping’s enforcers are seen beating people up, taking them away, or welding doors and shutting entryways with metal bars. Tens of thousands of people are being detained in makeshift quarantine camps.

Other videos being shared on social showed children being locked up, away from their parents.

Another video showed men in hazmat suits, entering residents’ homes and emptying out their properties.

And it’s not just humans who are at the receiving end of China’s strict ‘zero-COVID’ policy. Several videos have emerged from Shanghai, showing authorities torturing dogs and cats.

Authorities have separated those testing positive for COVID from their pets, and videos show the cats and dogs being bundled away in bags.

China has been trying to censor these videos, but to no avail. Residents continue to post their horrifying tales of lockdown, hoping that their pleas be heard.

With inputs from agencies

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