Ten days after Chinese authorities locked down the city of Shanghai because of a surge in Covid cases, videos are beginning to circulate online showing residents begging for essentials like food and medical supplies and being met with uncaring resistance from the authorities.
While Shanghai’s 26 million residents have been confined to their homes since last Sunday, cases in the city remain high. Authorities recorded 17,077 new Covid cases on Tuesday, but reported just 311 of those as symptomatic, according to the Associated Press.
Footage circulated on Chinese social-media app Weibo purported to show a drone flying over apartment buildings where residents stepped out onto their balconies. It was not clear when the footage was filmed.
“Please comply with Covid restrictions,” a voice says over the drone’s loudspeaker, according to the Economist senior China correspondent Alice Su. “Control your soul’s desire for freedom. Do not open the window or sing.”
All residents who test positive for Covid are required to go to a hospital or other quarantine facility. Video allegedly from one makeshift hospital in Shanghai, shared by CNN, appeared to show patients fighting over basic necessities including food:
Unverified photos and videos of children who tested positive for Covid being separated from their parents have circulated widely on Chinese social media, sparking an outcry from residents.
While Shanghai health authorities initially defended the policy, on Wednesday a city official said parents would be allowed to remain with children with “special needs” who test positive for Covid, according to the Associated Press. It was not immediately clear how “special needs” was defined.
Meanwhile, city streets in Shanghai are largely deserted, with residents confined to their immediate neighborhoods except to obtain Covid tests. Shanghai-based BBC reporter Edward Lawrence posted footage of a nearly deserted city street on April 1, along with photographs of a line for Covid testing:
The lockdown has strained food delivery services for residents. Lawrence wrote on Twitter of the difficulties in obtaining basic foods:
China has stuck to the “zero Covid” approach it has employed throughout the pandemic, conducting strict lockdowns in an effort to halt the spread of the highly transmissible virus. While the country has reported vaccinating most of its population, the government has authorized only domestically produced vaccines that are considered less effective than mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.