Lockdown Anger in Shanghai Intensifies as China Sticks to Zero-COVID Policy

Residents in Shanghai, China, are expressing frustration over the nation's strict "zero-tolerance" COVID-19 policy as 26 million people remain under lockdown.

Shanghai is home to the country's largest-ever virus outbreak, with 23,000 new local cases reported on Saturday, according to the Associated Press. However, the vast majority of those cases are asymptomatic, with just over 1,000 people experiencing symptoms.

Nonetheless, China has continued to practice its strict lockdown policy, keeping the city shut down since late last month and carrying out mass testing initiatives. Residents have increasingly complained about the lockdown, with many saying they are trapped in their homes and apartments without basic necessities due to panic-buying and limited supplies at grocery stores.

Social media videos have shown chaotic scenes of people fighting over food at stores or scrambling to order necessary items through apps, while others have pleaded for help in finding medication. In some cases, the quarantine protocols are so strict that even pet-owners are unable to take their dogs outside to use the bathroom, according to CNBC.

Shanghai lockdown
A woman looks out of an apartment during a strict COVID-19 lockdown in the Jing'an district in Shanghai on April 9. HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images

Shanghai's lockdown has also restricted medical personnel and caused significant staffing shortages at hospitals. Relatives of patients at the Shanghai Donghai Elderly Care hospital told the AP Saturday that their loved ones aren't receiving proper care because workers, who have come into contact with the virus, have been forced to quarantine.

The family of 71-year-old Shen Peiming told the news outlet that she died at the facility last week because her doctors and nurses weren't there to provide for her. Her last nursing assistant had been quarantined for being a close contact of a positive case, an anonymous family member said.

"How many times have there been lockdowns since 2020? They still don't have experience managing this?" the relative asked the AP. "In the past, if there was an issue, they'd always call me. This time, there wasn't even a voice message, and she died so suddenly."

Some residents across the city have been speaking out against the lockdown by standing on their balconies and singing in protest. However, authorities quickly responded to this by flying drones over residential buildings telling people to "control your soul's thirst for freedom. Do not open your windows and sing."

Others have expressed their frustration about current lockdown conditions through social media.

"It's chaos. It's a very populous city and there are so many people that I don't think the governmental supply is enough," one resident said while discussing a lack of food, according to France 24. "They said that the government was going to supply food, but we only had one supply about eight days ago. It was just a few vegetables and I personally ran out of them already. I don't know when they're going to deliver and there's no end in sight. We don't know when we are going to be released."

The lockdown was initially set to end on Tuesday, but officials extended the harsh protocols earlier this week. However, on Saturday, Shanghai Vice Mayor Zong Ming said the lockdown could soon be lifted or eased in areas that report zero positive cases within 14 days, the AP reported.

Newsweek contacted the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for additional comment.