Shanghai fences off COVID-hit areas, fueling fresh outcry

A courier in protective gear makes deliveries at a residential compound amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Shanghai, China April 23, 2022. REUTERS/Brenda Goh/File Photo

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SHANGHAI, April 24 (Reuters) – Authorities in Shanghai battling a COVID-19 outbreak have erected fences outside residential buildings, sparking fresh public outcry over a lockdown that has forced much of of the 25 million inhabitants of the city inside.

Images of white workers in hazmat suits sealing off apartment building entrances and closing off entire streets with green fences around two meters high have gone viral on social media, sparking questions and complaints from residents.

“It’s so disrespectful of the rights of the people inside, to use metal barriers to lock them up like pets,” said a user of social media platform Weibo.

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Video showed residents shouting from balconies at workers trying to put up fences before giving in and removing them. Other videos showed people trying to knock down fences.

“Isn’t that a fire hazard?” asked another Weibo user.

Numerous fences have been erected around compounds designated “sealed areas” – buildings where at least one person has tested positive for COVID-19, meaning residents are not allowed to leave their front door. entrance.

It is not known what prompted the authorities to resort to fencing. A notice dated Saturday from a local authority shared online said it was imposing a “hard quarantine” in some areas.

Reuters was unable to verify the authenticity of the notice or any images, but saw a green fence on a street in central Shanghai on Sunday.

This week, Reuters also saw police in protective gear patrolling the streets of Shanghai, erecting roadblocks and asking pedestrians to go home.

The Shanghai government did not respond to a request for comment.

China’s most populous city and most important economic hub is battling the country’s biggest COVID-19 outbreak with a policy that forces all positive cases into quarantine centers.

The lockdown, which for many residents lasted more than three weeks, has fueled frustration over access to food and medical care, lost wages, separation from families and quarantine conditions.

It has also weighed on the world’s second-largest economy, with factory production disrupted by blocked supply chains and difficulties faced by confined residents returning to work. Read more

Shanghai is carrying out daily COVID-19 tests across the city and accelerating the transfer of positive cases to central facilities to eradicate transmission of the virus outside quarantine areas.

Over the past week, authorities have also relocated entire communities, including uninfected people, saying they must disinfect their homes, according to residents and social media posts.

Many residents have taken to the internet to talk about the lockdown and express their dissent, using euphemisms and other means to battle government censors who often remove content critical of the authorities.

Videos of “Do you hear the people singing? ‘, a protest anthem from ‘Les Misérables’, received widespread replays, with the title of the French musical having received more than 90 million mentions on WeChat on Saturday, according to data from the chat app.

Shanghai reported 39 COVID-19 deaths on April 23, up from 12 a day earlier and by far the most during the current outbreak.

It reported no deaths in the first few weeks, fueling doubt among locals about the numbers. It has since reported 87 deaths, all within the past seven days.

The city recorded 19,657 new locally transmitted asymptomatic cases, down from 20,634 the day before, and 1,401 symptomatic, down from 2,736.

Cases outside quarantine areas totaled 280 from 218 the previous day. Other cities that were in lockdown began easing restrictions once cases hit zero.

China has largely succeeded in keeping COVID-19 at bay after the initial outbreak in Wuhan in late 2019, with a “dynamic zero” policy aimed at eradicating chains of infection.

This approach has been challenged by the spread of the highly infectious but less deadly variant of Omicron, which has prompted cities to impose varying levels of movement restrictions.

Nationwide, China reported 20,285 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases on Saturday, down from 21,423 a day earlier, with 1,580 symptomatic cases down from 2,988.

Beijing recorded 22 new cases of COVID-19 – all locally transmitted – up from six the previous day, prompting a number of gyms and after-school activity providers to suspend in-person classes.

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Reporting by Brenda Goh, Jacqueline Wong, Martin Pollard, Norihiko Shirouzu, David Stanway and newsrooms in Shanghai and Beijing; Editing by Tony Munroe and Christopher Cushing

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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