Monday, August 8, 2022

Shanghai fences up COVID-hit areas, fuelling fresh outcry


SHANGHAI: Shanghai authorities battling an outbreak of COVID-19 have erected fences outside residential buildings, sparking a fresh public outcry over a lockdown that has forced much of the city’s 25 million people indoors.

Images of white hazmat suit-clad workers sealing entrances of housing blocks and closing off entire streets with roughly two metre-tall green fencing went viral on social media, prompting questions and complaints from residents.

One video showed residents shouting from balconies at workers trying to set up fencing before relenting and taking it away. Other videos showed people trying to pull fences down.

Many of the fences were erected around compounds designated “sealed areas” – buildings where at least one person tested positive for COVID-19, meaning residents are forbidden from leaving their front doors.

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

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Reuters was not able to verify the authenticity of the notice or all of the images, but saw green fencing on a street in central Shanghai on Sunday.

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 centres.

The lockdown, which for many residents has lasted over three weeks, has fuelled frustration over access to food and medical care, lost wages, family separation and quarantine conditions.

It has also dragged on the world’s second-largest economy, with factory production disrupted by snarled supply chains and difficulties faced by locked-down residents returning to work.

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

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

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


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