Despite three weeks of harsh lockdown measures, things are getting worse in China's largest city of Shanghai as the government responds to growing cases with increasingly autocratic and draconian measures.
As much of the world moves on after learning to live with Covid infections, the place where the disease is believed to have originated appears to be unravelling.
Police have reportedly begun seizing residential blocks for use as quarantine camps, sparking protests and inflaming social unrest as videos of residents clashing with police proliferate on Chinese social media.
Some people are angry about being temporarily evicted, while some people are angry about infectious people being brought into their neighbourhood.
In one viral video, a resident accused police of beating residents, including women.
"They want to put 1,800 positive patients into our community, where all the residents have tested negative," one man said in the video.
"They beat our residents, our elderly and our women. They don’t even care if we kneel and beg."
“The police are hitting us!” Woman in #Shanghai crying and shouting. Looks the police are arresting people who broke the #lockdown barricades. #上海 這樣的瘋狂還要持續多久？#CCPChina #CCPVirus pic.twitter.com/UnkJ6Aspav
— Jennifer Zeng 曾錚 (@jenniferatntd) April 14, 2022
In another live-streamed video, a woman can be heard weeping and asking "why are they taking an old person away?", according to a translation by British newspaper The Telegraph. The video was abruptly cut, with the WeChat livestream platform announcing it contained "dangerous content".
One particularly haunting video shows an elderly women lying on the ground while a man stands over the top of her screaming. Residents speculate she took her own life as residents face widespread food shortages. The authenticity of the video could not be verified.
On Thursday, authorities ordered 39 households to move out of their homes so the government could house new cases in the development, according to Zhangjiang Group, the developer of the housing complex.
The move sparked clashes as some tenants obstructed new fencing being erected.
Nearby residents close to the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park complex were also notified earlier in the week that they must move out, Reuters reported.
Under China's zero-Covid policy, everyone who tests positive must quarantine at designated sites with reports of children being separated from their parents.
Another video from #Shanghai violent crackdown in a protest two days ago. A man hysterically shouted to the chinese police "Are you guys even human? Stop it right there. Let him go, let him go, let him go, let him go...!" pic.twitter.com/JKeqxVPPR7
— WumaoHub (@WumaoHub) April 15, 2022
The city has begun converting schools, recently finished apartment blocks and exhibition halls into quarantine centres, and announced last week it had set up more than 160,000 beds across more than 100 make-shift hospitals.
Despite its efforts, the Chinese government has been unable to arrest the spread of the virus, according to official statistics. On Saturday Shanghai reported a record 3,590 symptomatic cases, as well as 19,923 asymptomatic cases.
Residents urged to live at work as more Chinese cities tighten Covid controls
Shanghai reported a record number of symptomatic Covid-19 cases on Saturday as other areas across China tightened controls as they try to stare down the Omicron variant.
The Zhengzhou Airport Economic Zone, a central Chinese manufacturing area that includes Apple supplier Foxconn, announced a 14-day lockdown on Friday "to be adjusted according to the epidemic situation".
In northwestern China, the city of Xian on Friday urged residents to avoid unnecessary trips outside their residential compounds and encouraged companies to have employees work from home or live at their workplace.
A Xian government official, responding to residents' concerns over potential food shortages, said on Saturday that the announcement did not constitute a lockdown and that the city would not impose one.
The city of Suzhou, near Shanghai, said on Saturday that all employees capable of working from home must do so, and residential compounds and company campuses should avoid unnecessary entry of people and vehicles.
China's "dynamic clearance" policy aims to quickly contain sporadic outbreaks as they occur. On Saturday, a commentary in the Communist Party's official People's Daily newspaper said that the approach was the "best choice at this stage based on China's current epidemic situation."
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