Panic buying in Shanghai due to COVID-19 confinement

(CNN) – Brawl in the produce department, aisles filled with panicked shoppers, and empty shelves. Videos posted on social media on Sunday show chaotic scenes in Shanghai after authorities announced that part of the city would be subject to a widespread lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus. COVID-19 spread.

The Two-stage closing, which saw the eastern half of the city shut down at 5 a.m. on Monday for four days of mass testing, with the western half on Friday, comes at a time when Shanghai has become the new epicenter of China’s worst coronavirus outbreak. In two years, on Sunday it recorded a record 3,500 cases.

It is the first time that such drastic measures have been implemented in this city of 25 million, the country’s financial heart and the most cosmopolitan and progressive urban centre, where the ruling Communist Party seeks Zero covid policy To kill all infections.

Shanghai authorities had previously insisted that the city not go into lockdown, going so far as to investigate people for “fabricating information” that would suggest otherwise.

Shanghai locked up more than 10 million people before the outbreak of Covid-19 1:10

Instead, the authorities have used a “grid” system that constantly shuts down apartment complexes while testing residents. But on Sunday, the local government went a step further and announced an east-west lockdown, testing the patience of residents who have already suffered from smaller-scale lockdowns. Some have questioned why the city didn’t take broader action sooner.

“The complete shutdown of the city would have saved a lot of time and infections … (including) the psychological trauma of being in a Covid medical facility,” a resident of eastern Pudong district surnamed Lee told CNN.

The change also dashed hopes that the Shanghai approach would provide a less disruptive model than China’s “zero-Covid” policy, at a time when Beijing has called on local leaders to minimize disruptions to the economy and daily life.

However, according to a global health expert at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Yanchong Huang, doing so while taking responsibility for the spread of the virus under the “zero COVID-19” policy is like demanding “contradictory goals.” .

“Ultimately, local government officials have no choice but to take this tough approach to getting it done under these circumstances,” he said.

panic buying

Chinese authorities launched a The statement is shortly after 8 pm. This Sunday, he reassured residents that local officials will make sure they have enough supplies for the testing period.

But people panicked anyway, and flocked to markets that extended their working hours to keep up with demand.

One social media user on the Twitter-like Weibo platform said trying to buy merchandise was fighting a “lost battle,” comparing the experience to the upheaval of the 1960s when food was scarce.

Another person, whose apartment complex was already under local restrictions when the wider lockdown began, complained that they would not be able to resupply and questioned the government’s ability to provide the city with adequate food.

In the past, other Chinese cities have had problems supporting residents as local authorities struggle with the logistics of lockdown. In Xi’an, at the end of last year, residents went without food as a strict lockdown of the city occurred, which is a symptom of the disaster. lack of planning that shocked the country at the time.

Asked about concerns about food shortages during the lockdown, Gu Jun, director of the Shanghai Municipal Commerce Commission, said at a press conference on Monday that the city was “strengthening the regulation of supply sources.”

isolated crowds

Although small by international standards, the growing number of cases in Shanghai has added to the strain on the city’s health system.

Like other cities in China, Shanghai sends everyone who test positive to hospitals or quarantine centers, and does not allow any home quarantine, regardless of the severity of symptoms.

The city has already converted six hospitals, two indoor plazas and an exhibition center into government quarantine centers, according to Shanghai’s health authorities.

Staff helps a patient check-in at the designated quarantine center in Shanghai on March 26.

However, with cases rising, concerns have been raised about conditions within these facilities.

“Hundreds of people live together, in the cold and in poor conditions, and men and women are isolated together, without any privacy.

We use public restrooms and have to find food. Is quarantine really helping us? “Read a post on social media from a user who claimed to be at an exhibition center that has been turned into a covid-19 center.

Another, who was taken to hospital, said he had a “terrifying night” after receiving the diagnosis, sleeping on the floor in an “sealed room”.

“No one can tell us where and when we will be moved, they are bringing more and more people into quarantine together,” the user wrote.

Another user was surprised that this could happen in one of the most advanced cities in the country.

“This is Shanghai’s anti-epidemic policy: lock people up first and then think what to do next. No one gave us medicine, no doctors. Patients are sitting on the floor shivering,” the user wrote. “Is this the Shanghai that people used to trust?”

CNN’s Beijing bureau contributed to this report.

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