Shanghai COVID lockdown lifted for some, but millions remain trapped as China adheres to strict “zero-COVID” policies

Tokyo The US State Department has ordered all non-emergency consular personnel to leave ChinaShanghai’s largest city, as the global business hub enters its third week of lockdown in response to an increase in COVID-19 fallen. The US embassy in Beijing said it had ordered the departure because of the epidemic in Shanghai and because US diplomats “were concerned about the safety and well-being of US citizens” in the city.

“It is in the best interests of our employees and their families to reduce the number and to reduce our operations as we deal with the changing circumstances on the ground,” a statement from the embassy said, according to The Associated Press.

Shanghai officials on Tuesday reported more than 23,000 new cases of coronavirus. The vast majority of them are asymptomatic, but despite that, and some limited relief from the restrictions, the government has for the most part adhered to its strict measures of lockdown and isolation – even if it fights public anger, food shortages and a major impact on business.

Video shows abandoned streets in Shanghai because millions are under COVID lockdown


The central government of China has criticized its US and European tactics, claiming over the weekend that its draconian “zero-COVID” policy was “effective and scientific”.

Analysts at the global financial services company Nomura estimate that as many as 45 cities in China implemented full or partially closed from Tuesday, affecting more than a quarter of the country’s total population, according to the Reuters news agency.

As CBS News senior foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports, Shanghai is among the single largest COVID lockdown in the world. For more than two weeks, the mega-city of more than 25 million people has been terribly quiet.

The only bustle is at food depots, where there is a daily race to deliver groceries to millions of people who are not allowed to shop.

China Shanghai Lockdown
A pedestrian pushes an elderly man in a wheelchair on a street in Shanghai, China, April 12, 2022, after a citywide COVID-19 lockdown was lifted for several weeks where the virus was no longer detected, and amid growing anger among residents over the strict control measures.

Cost Photo / Future Publishing / Getty

Amid a scream of residents, city authorities on Tuesday let people leave their homes in some COVID-free neighborhoods, and officials said some pharmacies and groceries would reopen as well.

A local news release said less than 7 million Shanghai residents were liberated, however, and details on who would be liberated and when remained dark.

American Billy Stockton, who lives and works in Shanghai, is among the millions who have been confined to their apartments since the end of March.

Shanghai residents protest over strict COVID lockdown


“No one knows where they can get things,” he told Palmer. “No one knows where to get medical help … and it creates panic, fear and, simply, instability.”

There have been angry protests – rare everywhere in China – in areas where food has run out. Videos posted on social media show crowds of frustrated residents shouting, “we are hungry!”

Last week, a man recorded his anger in a video on his phone, and then uploaded it online.

“What should I buy,” he cried. “What am I eating? You are driving us to our death!”

Small groups of residents have now been allowed for the past few weeks, but only briefly, for COVID testing. Anyone who tests positive has no choice: As one patient pointed out on TikTok, they had to board a special bus and then check into a government-run mass isolation center.

The authorities are clearly ready to quarantine an attack of new cases, even if they release old ones that are now testing negative.

Workers take protective gear next to the entrance of an enclosed neighborhood during a pandemic lockdown in Jing’an district in Shanghai, China, April 5, 2022.


But for the recent release, it is a false sense of freedom. The approximately 6,000 people who were released from isolation centers on Monday went straight back home in lockdown.

Looking out of Billy Stockton’s window, however, there was no sign of it. He was busy absorbing his declining food supply.

“I had sausages and then yesterday they delivered a bag of rice, so simple stuff,” he said of his meal plan.

“It’s like a movie,” he told Palmer, saying he felt he had been caught in a nightmare. “I just can not believe I’m sitting in here. It’s over surreal. You have to pull yourself out to get through it.”

Like millions of other Shanghai residents, Stockton has no choice but to simply get through it.

However, that may take a few more weeks, and the question is whether there will be a lasting fallout among the mass population of Shanghai, who have rarely, if ever, felt so abused and abused by their government.

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