Shanghai, which is dealing with an unprecedented number of daily Covid cases, has become the most visible illustration of China’s stringent plan against COVID. The governing Communist Party stated on Sunday that hundreds of military officers will be sent to the closed-down financial hub to help in the required screening of the city’s 25 million residents.
The proposal, which would require every citizen to take a nucleic acid test beginning Monday morning, comes after Shanghai reported a city-wide record of over 9,000 cases on Sunday.
The fast-spreading outbreak has put Shanghai on the front lines of China’s uncompromising war with the virus, as the government ramps up testing, forced lockdowns, and contentious isolation rules that take young children from their parents if they test positive.
Enforcing these restrictions while still trying to meet the demands of a confined populace has forced officials to acquire a warlike mindset.
According to official media, more than 30,000 doctors have been rushed to the city in recent days. According to the official PLA Daily, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) also dispatched about 2,000 military medical personnel to Shanghai on Sunday. Shanghai officials have been under increasing political pressure to both stops the epidemic and answer citizens’ concerns about the high expenses and inconveniences of the strict restrictions.
The city has been roiled by dysfunction for weeks, with financial professionals having to sleep in their offices and citizens trapped in their homes anxious for medical treatment and other vital necessities.
If people anticipated the limitations would be eased soon, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan’s visit to the city over the weekend confirmed Beijing’s attitude. China’s health officials have frequently warned that if the virus spreads significantly in the 1.4 billion-strong population, health facilities might be overwhelmed, especially because vaccination rates among the elderly are low, and have stated that controlling Covid is an “overriding political goal.”
Last week, city officials admitted to failings in their response, with Shanghai municipal people’s government secretary-general Ma Chunlei apologizing on Thursday for not being “sufficiently prepared” for the epidemic.
Residents have continued to use social media in recent days to discuss difficulties obtaining things, including getting up early in the morning to place orders for limited supplies. Over the weekend, a further outcry over isolation measures erupted as photographs of a packed, understaffed Shanghai hospital ward for children with Covid-19 who had been removed from their families owing to isolation restrictions surfaced.
The photos were not of the Covid-19 pediatric isolation ward, as the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center later clarified in a statement, but were taken as the hospital was transferring the regular pediatric ward to the outpatient and emergency building, where “more pediatric medical personnel have been deployed.”
However, the policy itself has created substantial concern among parents, as it compels all patients who test positive to be separated in facilities, including young children and newborns. The big issue is when Shanghai will be allowed to lift limitations while the citywide mass testing continues and the majority of the city remains under lockdown.
The city’s case count has failed to drop, and a similar situation is unfolding in northern Jilin province, which launched more stringent disease control efforts in March but is still dealing with the epidemic.
The outbreaks, the country’s largest in over two years, are the first time China’s control procedures have been put to the test against the highly transmissible Omicron subvariant BA.2.
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Some locals are recalling the circumstances in Wuhan two years ago when China was dealing with its first epidemic of Covid-19.
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