Local authorities in Shanghai are fencing the entrances to apartment buildings to further restrict movement in the city as censors struggled to remove a viral video showing the hardships of the financial hub’s anti-Covid-19 lockdown.
The harsh new tactics in Shanghai came when Covid-19 cases in Beijing rose to 22 over the weekend, forcing the Chinese capital authorities to shut down communities affected by the virus.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is determined to eradicate the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant and orders a campaign that has stunned dozens of cities and paralyzed the economy.
The strict roadblocks have led to panic buying, food shortages and growing public anger, which has lowered the country’s economic prospects since mid-March, when Jilin became the first major city to shut down to ward off an Omicron wave.
Jilin in northern China has now been locked up for more than 50 days and completed 40 rounds of Covid-19 testing in the city. But the city still reported 15 new cases Saturday. The nearby industrial city of Changchun has also been locked down for more than four weeks, reporting 172 new cases for the day.
China as a whole counted 21,796 new cases on Saturday with 21,058 tested positive for Covid-19 in Shanghai, reversing a downward trend in cases reported earlier in the week. Shanghai had 39 new Covid-19 deaths, a new high.
In Shanghai’s eastern Pudong district, the city’s pandemic prevention committee ordered “harsh quarantines” for communities with a recent history of incidents. Residents on social media shared photos of workers in white hazmat suits installing green fences more than 1.5m high outside buildings to prevent residents from getting out.
Pudong said the new barriers should leave enough room to perform Covid-19 testing and that workers should “take care of their own safety” while installing the gates.
“Will the virus be afraid of these fences, let’s wait and see,” a Shanghai resident said on social media. A venture capitalist in the city noticed a picture of the fences: “Where am I? What year is it? Have I traveled through time?”.
Meanwhile, China’s army of censors fought to stop viral videos from spreading on social media, continuing the growing frustration in Shanghai, where most residents have been quarantined at home for more than three weeks.
On Friday night, social media users posted and re-posted a six-minute video titled “Sounds of April,” which compiled audio recordings of last month’s troubles.
The posts to Tencent’s WeChat social feed were quickly deleted by censors in a cat-and-mouse game where people shared the black-and-white footage of the city overlaid with sound. Many joked that the country had finally hit “zero spread”.
The clip begins with a recording of a local government press conference on March 15, in which health officials claimed the coronavirus pandemic was under control and a lockdown was unnecessary.
It went on to link more than a dozen viral moments in the past month chronologically, from residents asking for food, to crying from babies separated from their parents and a shaken spectator who saw a corgi being killed after its owner was sent to a quarantine camp. .
“As a Shanghainese, it’s heartbreaking to see Shanghai like that from a country far away,” said one person on YouTube, where the video is still available.