A society shutdown: Shanghai’s extreme COVID-19 lockdown


MiLu24 via Wikipedia Commons

Shanghai, once China’s most bustling city, is desolate during COVID-19 lockdown.

Makenna Leiby, A&E Editor

China’s most populous city, Shanghai, has been in a COVID-19-induced lockdown for over a month. The lockdown, beginning in early April, was implemented by China’s leader Xi Jinping in a hopeful attempt to reduce the country’s COVID-19 cases to zero. 

In March, there were 73,000 detected cases of COVID-19, specifically the Omicron variant, within one day in Shanghai. Compared to the city’s population of 26 million, the number of cases is fairly small and is far less than numbers reported in the United States or U.K. 

However, the number is one of the largest reported in China since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2019, thanks to Jinping’s dedication to strict COVID-19 policies. Therefore, when the high number was discovered, Shanghai’s government went into panic-mode. 

The Chinese government’s reaction was far off-base from the Iowan government’s handling of the same subject. In Iowa, COVID-19 feels like a distant memory, schools are open, masks are optional and people are back to work. Junior Anna Reither felt the current COVID-19 guidelines positively affect her lifestyle, “They are strict enough that they are perfect,” she said.

In a completely different light, Shanghai’s citizens were ordered to stay in their homes at all times; some residents are not even allowed out of their apartments to let their dogs use the bathroom. Daily necessities are delivered by government officials, but residents report not receiving enough food or items being delivered too late. 

The restrictions prohibit any non-government issued cars from traveling on any street in Shanghai, any businesses from operating and regular residents from leaving their designated quarantine area. 

In recent weeks, the measures have only intensified. People have been forced to evacuate their homes, leaving pets and belongings there, for unprompted medical disinfectants. Motion-sensor activated locks have been placed on the doors of infected citizens to prevent them from leaving their residence. 

Makeshift hospitals have been created so real ones can receive disinfections. However, those held in the facilities report them being unsuited for the eldery or disbaled—the main group affected by the virus in Shanghai. 

Shanghai’s community members have tried to share the horrific experiences they have dealt with in the past month, but due to China’s extreme censorship regulations, most accounts of the lockdown have been removed from social media platforms. 

Despite this, some creators have pushed back against the censorship and continued to repost their shocking videos in undetectable formats. 

The horrific events filmed include a government health-care worker beating a pet corgi to death after discovering its owner had tested positive for COVID-19, government officials dragging a man out of his home in a bodybag only to realize he is still alive and a young nurse being denied care at the very hospital she worked for. 

One highly insightful video titled “Voices of April” shared impactful audio of citizens chanting for more government supplies, a young boy begging to see his sick father and a government health-care worker crying while admitting her concerns with the lockdown to a patient. 

The photos and videos able to surpass China’s censorship laws are so heart-wrenching that it instills curiosity about footage discovered by the Chinese government. 

The government ruled by Jinping has maintained spreading propaganda that claims China’s people are better off because of the COVID-19 regulations through Chinese news sources. Furthermore, all foreign news published regarding the situation is declared fake news or a political attack. 

It appears COVID-19 is being regarded as a higher priority than the Chinese public’s general health. Reither commented on the possible effects of this hierachy, some which have already occured, “People’s well-being is the most important thing, if you have people that are unhappy you will have a revolt or possible protest that could turn hostile.” 

While cases have fallen to 7,000 a day in Shanghai, it is apparent the lockdown has permanently damaged Shanghai’s trust in their leaders. Jinping fails to realize or care about this fact as signs of a similar lockdown are clear in Beijing.