Man attacks health worker as 'frustrations build' in China's lockdown

·News Editor
·3-min read

The Shanghai government in China says it is trying its best to improve the distribution of food and essential goods to locked-in residents, as anger and social unrest grows in the country's largest city and beyond.

Only healthcare workers, pandemic volunteers, delivery personnel or people with special permission are allowed on the street in Shanghai during the city's latest Covid outbreak.

Authorities say that has whittled the number of couriers, who must keep the city's 26 million residents supplied, to just 11,000.

A family interacts with officials as millions of people continue to be locked down in China. Source: Weibo
A family interacts with officials as millions of people continue to be locked down in China. Source: Weibo

Online, people are complaining about going hungry while videos continue to emerge of fed-up residents lashing out at government pandemic workers.

Under the headline "Shanghai households are running out of food", Foreign Policy's deputy editor James Palmer on Thursday wrote; "the main concern for most Shanghai residents isn’t Covid-19 – it’s food".

Workers wearing protective gear sort bags of vegetables and groceries to distribute to residents in Shanghai
Workers wearing protective gear sort bags of vegetables and groceries to distribute to residents in Shanghai. Source: Reuters

Swapping stories on Chinese social media, some residents are reportedly going to extreme lengths.

"Food scarcity is severe enough that some people are foraging, resulting in cases of food poisoning."

And tensions are boiling over.

A viral video circulating on Chinese social media site Weibo shows a man attacking a lone health worker in a hazmat suit.

"Frustrations are building," said China watcher and journalist Manya Koetse while sharing the clip.

"This health worker was allegedly attacked after stopping these two people who went outside to walk the dog against the rules."

In the video, a man can be seen grabbing, pushing and punching the worker while a woman stands nearby screaming.

Violent encounters have been filmed between pandemic workers and increasingly frustrated residents. Source: Weibo Via Manya Koetse
Violent encounters have been filmed between pandemic workers and increasingly frustrated residents. Source: Weibo Via Manya Koetse

Residents urged to fight anti-lockdown behaviour

It's not the first time a video has gone viral showing violent clashes between lockdown workers and frustrated residents. But despite the growing unrest, the Chinese government has shown little sign of deviating from it's staunch Covid-zero policy.

The Shanghai branch of China's Communist Party called on members to "dare show their swords and fight against all kind of behaviour that interferes with and destroys the overall efforts against the pandemic" in an open letter on Wednesday night.

In another clip being shared, a family can be seen speaking to government officials out their window. Despite being in need of food, they tell officials they are fine. The clip has reportedly sparked debate on social media, with some suggesting the residents didn't want to embarrass the officials.

Shanghai has sufficient reserves of staples such as rice and meat, but issues have cropped up in distribution and last-mile deliveries because of epidemic control measures, Shanghai's vice mayor, Chen Tong, said at a news conference on Thursday.

He said the city would try to reopen some wholesale markets and food stores and allow more delivery personnel out of locked-down areas. Officials will also crack down on price gouging, he said.

According to Reuters, residents claim they are also having trouble obtaining products such as infant formula with some complaining on Weibo about having to wake up at dawn for a chance at booking a grocery delivery, but finding them sold out within seconds.

with Reuters

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