The entire population of China’s largest city, Shanghai, have been subject to a city-wide “zero COVID” lockdown since April 5, which prohibits residents from leaving their homes even for food. The draconian restrictions, the presence of health officers in hazmat suits, and use of state-of-the-art technology to police the local residents have turned Shanghai into a vision of dystopia.
The Chinese government’s movement restrictions, which only allow for the scarce dispensation of daily rations and delivery services, prompted frustrated residents to scream from the windows of their apartments, according to viral videos now circulating on social media platforms.
For days, the city’s 25 million residents have been forced to take COVID-19 tests, and those who test positive are reportedly sent to sprawling quarantine facilities. The pets of those affected have been reportedly rounded up and killed, drawing widespread outrage from Chinese citizens across the country.
“The Shanghai 2022 lockdown is worse than the Wuhan 2020 lockdown: many people are on their last reserves of fresh food, without knowing when they can receive their delivery of government rations or supermarket groceries,” wrote Bloomberg writer Dan Wang.
“My sense is also that no one in Shanghai is able to have a productive lockdown. It’s impossible to concentrate. Everyone is on phones all day, either trying to purchase vegetables or dealing with the flood of news and demands to do testing,” added Wang.
In response to the growing unrest, Chinese authorities have warned citizens against discussing pandemic-related topics online in other cities, noting that “The internet is full of perils. Exercise caution on the Internet.”
Videos of desperate Shanghai residents screaming from their apartments surfaced on Chinese social media platform Weibo. Drones with robotic voices hover overhead, warning residents to keep calm and comply with the restrictions.
“Please comply with COVID restrictions. Control your soul’s desire for freedom. Do not open the window or sing,” the drones state.
Shanghai’s city government has admitted that the city is struggling with logistical issues, but officials insist that there is enough food to go around.
“It is true there are some difficulties in ensuring the supply of daily necessities,” said Liu Min, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce in a statement to the BBC.