Shanghai puts up fences at the entrances of areas affected by COVID-19, unleashing a new wave of outrage

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Shanghai authorities fighting an outbreak of COVID-19 have erected mesh barriers outside some residential buildings.

Photo: BO KELIN/HPIC/DPA/PICTURE ALLIANCE/Deutsche Welle

Volunteers and government workers in Shanghai have erected metal barriers in several districts to block off small streets and entrances to apartment complexes, as China tightens its strict “zero-COVID” approach in its biggest city, despite growing threats. resident complaints.

In the city’s financial district, Pudong, the barriers – thin metal sheets or mesh fences – were put up in several neighborhoods under a local government directive, according to Caixin, a Chinese business media outlet. Buildings where cases have been detected have sealed off their main entrances, with a small opening for pandemic prevention workers to pass through.

“This is disrespectful to the rights of the people inside, using metal barriers to lock them up like pets,” said a user on the Weibo social media platform.

A video showed residents yelling at workers putting up the fences from their balconies, who then gave in and took them away. Other videos showed people trying to break down the fences.

“Isn’t this a fire hazard?” said another Weibo user.

China reported on Sunday (24.04.2022) 21,796 new community-transmitted COVID-19 infections, with the vast majority being asymptomatic cases in Shanghai. Across the country, many cities and provinces have implemented some version of lockdowns in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

Ómicron expands in Shanghai

The latest outbreak, driven by the highly contagious omicron variant, has spread across the country, but has been especially large in Shanghai. The city, a financial center with 25 million residents, has recorded hundreds of thousands of cases but fewer than 100 deaths since the outbreak began nearly two months ago.

Videos of the new barriers being put up on Saturday were posted on social media, with some expressing anger at the measures. The barriers are intended to leave major highways unblocked, Caixin said.

In one video, verified by the AP, residents leaving a building in Shanghai’s Xuhui district broke through the mesh barricade at their entrance and sought out the security guard they believed responsible for placing them.

Most of the barriers appeared to have been erected around compounds designated as “sealed zones,” which are buildings in which at least one person has tested positive for COVID-19 and therefore whose residents are prohibited from leaving. Their doors.

Tiered system in Shanghai neighborhoods

Shanghai uses a tiered system in which neighborhoods are divided into three categories based on transmission risk. Those in the first category face the strictest COVID-19 controls and were the main target of the new reinforced measures. In the third category, some buildings allow people to leave their homes and visit public areas.

In Shanghai, authorities reported 39 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the official death toll to 4,725 as of the end of Saturday, the National Health Commission reported on Sunday.

World attention for strict focus

The city’s lockdown has drawn worldwide attention for its strict approach and its sometimes dangerous consequences. Many city residents have had difficulty obtaining food, resorting to bartering and buying in bulk. Others have not been able to receive adequate medical attention in time, due to strict traffic controls.

On Friday, Chinese netizens shared a six-minute video called “April Voices” documenting some of the most difficult public moments the city has experienced in the nearly month-long lockdown. In one part, residents of a Shanghai community who protested on April 8 are heard shouting, “Send us food! Send us food! Send us food!” in unison

The video spread across WeChat timelines before it was abruptly removed by censors on Saturday.

Chinese authorities have continued to assert that a “zero-COVID” strategy is the best way forward, given low vaccination rates in people over 60, and that omicron expansion would lead to many deaths and serious illness if the country put end its strict approach.

FEW (AP, Reuters)

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