Video of a taxi driver cordoned off inside his vehicle has highlighted the drastic measures China is taking to suppress Covid-19 despite a record surge in infections.
Social unrest across a host of major cities has erupted in recent days as residents become increasingly fatigued with Beijing's unwavering enforcement of its zero-Covid strategy.
As the country continues to register record daily Covid cases, China is clinging on to its strict approach which experts believe is becoming untenable. China's commitment to stamping out any transmission since the virus first emerged in Wuhan back in late 2019 is now on the brink.
With the tracing of every case as more than 40,000 daily infections are reported, the meticulous efforts to stem the spread has become a source of anger and dismay for many Chinese residents as the rest of the world presses on with living with the virus.
In a video from Guangdong province on November 16, which has widely been shared online in China, a taxi driver is cordoned off by tape and temporary fencing inside his vehicle after learning he has become a close contact. A pandemic worker sits nearby watching the driver, presumably ensuring he remains inside the vehicle until his Covid test is returned.
It is one of many viral videos in recent months that is contributing to a shift in mentality from many residents. The role restrictions played in the deaths of several residents in a building fire in China's far west was the trigger for thousands of Shanghai residents who took to the streets in protest.
"It's time to let the virus spread," one person wrote on Douyin – China's version of TikTok – in response to the taxi video,
"I don't know what to say," another user said in apparent disbelief.
"Too far," one comment read.
There is growing concern from experts that extensive resources are being used to fight a losing battle, when efforts should be focused on vaccinating the population and ensuring residents have received boosters.
As Professor Catherine Bennett, Chair of Epidemiology at Deakin University, put it, China is "holding back a tide with a sieve now, not a dam".
"The question is do you need to keep trying to beat it down if you can't beat it out? Where does that leave you?" she told Yahoo News Australia.
Major challenge facing Xi Jinping
President Xi Jinping, who was targeted by some protesters in what for China is a rare and surprising case of sedition, is now facing arguably the toughest challenge of his career.
"People were protesting against zero-Covid — a national policy and Xi’s personal agenda, one he had declared that China must ‘stick to without wavering’ only recently in October,” Yuen Yuen Ang, from the University of Michigan, told the Financial Times.
“This constitutes a challenge to central authority at the highest level.”
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