Nearly two weeks after the 25-million-strong city was shut down, Chinese officials have warned Shanghai residents about what they say online about the city’s cod epidemic, after many complained about the state and food shortages.
Social media has been full of messages and videos in recent days, from residents expressing frustration over the increasingly difficult situation in the city. A pregnant woman applied for help on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo after she was discharged from a hospital following a positive result in a post that went viral.
But Internet censors quickly scrutinized critical posts about the government from online public forums, and on Friday the Internet watchdog in Shanghai called on the public to “separate rumors from information.”
The warning comes as more than 24,000 cases have been reported in the country, including about 90 percent of new infections in Shanghai. The wave has paralyzed the financial hub, forcing many residents to struggle to provide basic food and medical care.
“For the first time in my life, I had to worry about food security,” said an executive who has lived in the city for more than 10 years. “Now, I’m worried that our babies will run out of milk.”
Residents say food orders have been canceled because delivery drivers have struggled to meet demand, and many have been placed in quarantine after a positive test without any clear instructions on when they will be released.
“The whole city logs in to the food delivery apps in the morning so they can get their hands on the product,” said a man who arrived at 1 a.m. Wednesday to confirm a delivery after multiple failed attempts. “It felt like winning the lottery.”
A senior executive at a private equity firm, who has been stuck indoors for more than three weeks, said the restrictions were affecting the entire population.
“Regardless of how much money you have or are willing to spend, you can’t get stable access to food,” he said.
Fan, a woman in her 30s, has been in a quarantine facility with a capacity of 400 people since Monday and has been given only traditional Chinese medicine.
“Employees sometimes have to deal with all sorts of things from fights [among patients] And the water is running low, “he said.” But I can’t complain. We’ve been fed three times a day, the food isn’t bad, and there’s an outdoor area for exercise and smoking. ”
According to the Japanese bank Nomura, about 200 million people and 23 cities are under complete or partial lockdown, but many areas that are not yet facing such severe restrictions have started stockpiling food and other necessities.
A woman from Taiyuan, in the northern province of Shanxi, said residents had started shopping in panic after learning of the single-digit incident in the city this week. “There is plenty of food, but market prices are skyrocketing because people are afraid of a possible lockdown,” he said.
After hearing the news of the case in the society, a vegetable seller has doubled the price of spring onion. “Prices keep going up and down depending on what people have heard about the situation,” he added.
The outbreak of highly contagious Omicron variant is examining the limits of China’s zero-quad policy and putting pressure on the economy, but Beijing has given no indication that it will change its approach.
The official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, The People’s Daily newspaper, published a front-page article defending the policy on Friday, saying it was the “best choice” when large numbers of the elderly population were not vaccinated.
Bo Zhuang, an asset manager and analyst at Lumis Sales, said: “Although Shanghai can control this outbreak, the supply chain and use will continue to be disrupted, leaving large parts of China in lockdown.”
Hui Shan, chief Chinese economist at Goldman Sachs, explained that China was already experiencing “multiple economic shocks.” Rising commodity prices and a dramatic slowdown in property sales reinforce the “negative impact” of local restrictions.
For Shanghai residents, the growing number of lawsuits will likely increase the lockdown indefinitely. “It simply came to our notice then. Prisoners are locked up, but they get at least three meals a day and know how long their imprisonment is, ”said one resident.
Additional reporting by Xueqiao Wang in Shanghai