The situation in Shanghai is scary. Reports of millions struggling to feed themselves, elderly unable to access medicine, videos of small riots breaking out circulating on social media. Many households relying on inadequate govt food deliveries. pic.twitter.com/bW1ixaTu7O
— Michael Smith (@MikeSmithAFR) April 8, 2022
Shanghai is a city of 25 million people. What delusional escapee from an insane asylum believed that a system that relies on government planning would ever be able to feed that many people during a lockdown?
But that’s only half the story. What would you say to a government that celebrates locking up 25 million people with little or no food, no medicine, and the threat of being “disappeared” if you break quarantine?
The Communist Chinese official newspaper, Xinhua, feels the nation has a lot to celebrate.
It is the dynamic zero-COVID policy that is behind the fact that the number of China’s COVID-19 infections, patients, serious cases and deaths has remained at low levels. It helped the country safely host the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games early this year. It is also a key reason why China has done better than most countries in both economic development and COVID-19 containment. Effective epidemic control has also enabled the country to help stabilize the global industrial chains and supply chains.
With its unswerving implementation of the dynamic zero-COVID approach, China, as a responsible country, has the resolve, experience, and capacity to soon bring the latest resurgences under control and maintain strong economic growth.
It will not be long before Chinese citizens affected by the virus can enjoy warm sunshine in spring days as things get back to normal.
Meanwhile, the restrictions are probably killing more people than would ever have died of COVID-19. Older citizens are being left to die in short-staffed hospitals as doctors, nurses, and other health care industry workers are placed in quarantine.
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It’s a Catch-22 for the Chinese government. Lift restrictions and they’re apt to see a massive outbreak in their largest city that the health-care system can’t cope with. Refuse to lift restrictions and they’re at risk of mass starvation and riots playing out before the world’s eyes on social media faster than Chinese censors can cover it up. And they’d likely end up with a massive outbreak in that scenario too, with lockdown rules suddenly being ignored en masse.
Something’s got to give. Either the government will lift restrictions or the desperate locals will lift them themselves.
While Chinese state media has shown hospitals with just two or three patients per room, patients like those sent to Shanghai’s giant exhibition centres say they live side by side with thousands of strangers, without walls or showers and with ceiling lights on at all hours.
Videos on Chinese social media have shown hastily converted quarantine sites, including a ramshackle vacant factory where a number of camping beds were placed, a site made out of shipping containers and a school with a poster saying blankets and hot water were not available.
Those quarantine centers are literal hellholes.
American lawyer Jared T. Nelson, who lives in the city, tweeted that only two people from each apartment building are allowed to leave every day to collect food parcels.
Volunteers must wear full protective white suits and have two hours to finish the job.
Mr Nelson said he has been told the conditions at so-called central quarantine centres, where infected patients are taken, are ‘awful’.
He wrote: ‘No showers, portable toilets only, no hot water, and of course no privacy’.
The government has announced a slight easing of restrictions, with residents able to move around their districts while gatherings are restricted in number. The only catch is that a district will have to go 14 days without a new infection before the restrictions are eased.
China will not be able to ditch its “zero COVID” policy. They’ve invested too much in it to abandon it now.